Mark Edwards comment: PRS key to Greater Manchester building back fairer

The number of properties available to rent in Manchester hit a record low in September, writes Mark Edwards of ForLiving.

According to the Manchester Quarterly Report produced by Urbanbubble, there were just 427 homes available to rent in Manchester on the last day of September.

It is clear the rental market is being stretched. Homes in good locations, with strong connection links and access to high quality amenities continue to be in high demand.

If this trend continues, it is likely the region will fall short of properties available to rent by the end of the year. This will have a massive impact on people’s lives. Prospective renters will be driven to properties at the bottom of the market. Prices will go up. Rogue landlords will be the ones that profit.

It is a problem that areas like London and Paris have faced for decades, and we cannot allow Greater Manchester to go down the same road.

A strong PRS market is an essential part of supporting our economic recovery, providing quality, attractive, affordable and safe homes for those building their careers, offering stability to families and supporting the ever-growing number of students making Salford and Manchester their long-term home.

Recovering from the pandemic and the economic fallout was never going to be easy. Towards the end of last year, there was speculation that the demand for city living, and particularly apartments, would decline. But as the Urbanbubble report suggests, the market has very much bounced back and demand has only increased.

Our own experiences have supported this view of demand outstripping supply.

Many of those who returned to the suburbs in the lockdown periods have quickly moved back to inner-city locations. Their lives changed and they want homes that reflect that.

PRS schemes should be built with the residents’ lifestyles in mind – with landlords who have a long-term vested interest in the success of communities and neighbourhoods. In most cases, they provide spacious homes, onsite amenities, and dedicated property management services. This could include gyms, green spaces and communal workspaces.
ForLiving has just launched Dock 5, one of the North West’s biggest PRS schemes. It is part of the wider regeneration of the waterfront in Ordsall, Salford.

The Dock 5 community will eventually have 394 furnished and unfurnished apartments and townhouses for private rent, with residents now moving into the 121 homes that are part of the first phase.

The scheme is comprised of three blocks ranging from four to eight storeys on a 2.8-acre site on Ordsall Lane, offering one- to four-bedroom homes. With Urbanbubble’s research suggesting two to three-bedroom properties are in the highest demand, this fits the local demographic perfectly.

We’ve put a huge amount of focus on listening to potential residents and creating a scheme where a new community can develop.

The area is set to be transformed with more than 1,000 new homes planned be built over the coming years along the waterfront area. We want Dock 5 to be in the centre of those plans, with a balance of city living and green open spaces.

The demand for rented homes is evident of the region’s resilient nature and booming economy, – despite the challenges we have faced over the last 18 months.

The demands on the PRS market will grow again as the requirement for affordable city-centre living grows. We must build more homes. But success in the PRS market is likely to lie beyond the numbers.

People’s expectations are changing. They want to live in communities. In places that represent their values and their ambitions. They want places they can balance home and work life. The market must find a way to offer them that.

– Mark Edwards, Strategic Lead at ForLiving