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?
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.”
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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.