The rise of furniture rental to residents of BTR

living room

Over the past ten years, established furniture rental business Roomservice by CORT has witnessed a huge rise in business from private renters. Prior to that the company received most of its business from the corporate relocation sector, furnishing properties for those working in the UK on temporary contracts. So what has driven this increase in individual renters using Roomservice by CORT to furnish their homes and how does this trend present an opportunity to build to rent operators?

Generation rent.
The financial crisis of 2008 led to a sharp growth in the rental sector, when skyrocketing house prices and near static wage increases meant Gen Z’s and millennials had no choice but to rent. For the many people in this situation, purchasing a house full of furniture is an expensive and often unrealistic investment for what could be a temporary situation. Similarly, with demand for many rental properties outstripping supply and costs rising with demand, today’s tenants want more for their hard-earned money and furnishings are a major part of the decision process. 
Laura Shepherd from Roomservice by CORT explains: “Over the past 10 years we’ve noticed that renting has become the norm for the younger generation. It allows them to move more freely without being tied down to ‘stuff’. They’ll happily rent their music, bikes, cars, fashion, and now they’re renting their furniture too.”

Renting everything needed to set-up home.
Roomservice by CORT offers renters a complete turn-key furnishing service, boasting 300 furniture lines ranging from large items such as sofas and beds to white goods, kitchenware, appliances, soft furnishings and accessories, right down to the last teaspoon. With flexible rental terms from as little as one month, customers have the power to choose rather than making do with what a landlord provides or facing the expense of buying new furniture for a temporary need. They can rent furniture by the piece, or choos room-based furniture packages. And there are other benefits of renting furniture vs. buying, as Laura Shepherd continues:
“When someone rents a property, they want to move in quickly, not wait weeks for multiple furniture deliveries to arrive. We deliver and install an entire property in just one day. We can even collect keys so that the furniture can be installed before the customer arrives or while they’re busy doing other things.”


Why owning furniture is overrated
UK furniture consumption and waste is growing. In 2019 the British Heart Foundation reported that over a third of households have thrown away furniture and household items which could have been reused.

Laura Shepherd says: “We select our rental furniture very carefully - we’re constantly monitoring where our furniture is manufactured and only buy furniture using sustainable woods and recyclable components. Furniture rental can be a great alternative to purchasing for a temporary need and can prevent unwanted or unsuitable furniture going into landfill.”

Furniture rental is increasingly becoming an attractive tool for build to rent operators, allowing them to offer customers additional choice and flexibility.
Tim Swaddle, Roomservice by CORT’s Head of Residential explains: “We’re delighted that BTR operators are looking at offering furniture rental options to their residents. Operators that purchase furniture for entire buildings are potentially limiting their target market to tenants only seeking furnished property. If a prospective tenant decides they want the apartment, but not the furniture, items will have to be moved into storage and, if this happens in multiple apartments, it can become an expensive storage and management problem. You don’t get these issues when you rent furniture from us. We manage the whole process.

For the build to rent sector, using a third-party furniture rental specialist is a win-win situation. It gives the customer the opportunity to select what they want to suit their own needs, tastes and budget, and it is just one way the operator can offer an extra level of service without additional risk or expense to their business. And tenants who can furnish their apartments exactly as they choose will feel more at home and in control, so they are likely to stay there longer.

Read our latest case study with BTR pioneers, Manchester Life.