Build-to-let was first referenced in 2015 guidance in response to emerging trends, which include on-going population growth, a move towards smaller average household size, an ageing population and a greater proportion of households in the rented sector. At that time, apartments had become a more common form of dwelling in urban areas, comprising 11% of all occupied households in Ireland and almost one-third of occupied households in Dublin City (Census 2011). By 2016, this had risen to 12%.
In 2018, my Department published updated Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments Guidelines for Planning Authorities to respond to continuing changing housing need, particularly in light of the dynamics in the urban employment market, as well as ongoing demographic trends. Chapter 5 of the 2018 Guidelines addressed the relatively new 'build-to-rent' sector and set out a number of key distinct characteristics. Build-to-rent projects are usually a single entity investment for long term rental undertaking, comprising individual residential units within the development that are not sold off separately for private ownership and/or subsequent sub-letting individually, which is a key difference from the traditional housing development model. The guidelines provide for planning permission for specific build-to-rent developments to be sought from a planning authority. Build-to-Rent developments have specific planning requirements for the provision of dedicated amenities and facilities specifically for residents in terms of communal recreational space, work spaces and cooking/dining facilities as well as a range of other support services such as laundry facilities, concierge, management, repair and maintenance.
Build-to-Rent development forms a relatively small proportion of all planning applications lodged. As of the end of October 2021, a total of 58,702 residential units in total had been approved under the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) process, comprising 14,118 Houses, 34,637 Apartments and 9,945 Build-to-Rent units. Build-to-Rent continues to make up around 16% of the total residential units approved under the SHD process. The amount of approved Build-to-Rent developments is a relatively small proportion of the total. Following a review of co-living in 2020, updated Sustainable Urban Development guidelines were published and I have no plans to further amend the guidelines at this time.