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For the past year, the emerging Build to Rent (BtR) sector in Australia has received increased attention from policy makers and property correspondents. It was against that backdrop that KJA worked with the Committee for Sydney and Coronation Property to welcome Andy Leahy, a leading UK BtR specialist, to Sydney for a series of roundtable discussions with leading policy makers and sector stakeholders.

Andy Leahy is the Managing Director of Bespoke Property Consultants and advised the UK Government, led by former Prime Minister David Cameron, on policies that would help support the emergence of an institutionally-backed and professionally-run rental sector across the country. According to research by the British Property Federation, there are 142,999 BtR units either completed or planned in the UK currently, which constitutes a growth rate of around 600% since 2014.

During his time in Sydney, Andy presented at a BtR roundtable event for the Committee for Sydney and met key policy makers in the NSW Government, including Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes MP and the Minister for Water, Property and Housing, Melinda Pavey MP. He also met private sector developers actively considering BtR opportunities and spoke to the Australian Financial Review and Fifth Estate.

In conversation with Fifth Estate Andy said: “Like London, Sydney is facing a challenge in meeting its housing need and BtR represents a new way of thinking about delivery to meet that need…It is good to see the emergence of BtR in Australia and I hope to play some small part in helping it grow and thrive in the coming years.”

KJA and others concerned with BtR are actively seeking to learn from some of the lessons emerging from the UK sector, particularly the tax and planning policy changes that were made between 2010 – 2017, that precipitated a 600% growth in the BtR sector. More growth in the UK sector is forecast as increasing numbers of people are priced out of home ownership.

The challenge of delivering high quality housing in light of growing demand is also a challenge in Australia and it is an issue that is at the forefront of the minds of policy makers in NSW. A rental sector in Sydney, that is punctuated by institutional investment, professional building management and maintenance services, as well as high design and construction quality, would help to meet that need.

Andy Leahy’s visit has helped focus the mind and establish what needs to be done now to deliver that.