Build-to-rent was first referenced in 2015 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 the updated Sustainable Urban Housing Development Guidelines to respond to changing housing need, in light of emerging dynamics in the urban employment market and ongoing demographic trends. The 2018 Guidelines addressed the relatively new build-to-rent sector and sets out a number of key distinct characteristics.
Since 2018, build-to-rent developments have formed a relatively small proportion of all planning applications lodged, accounting for less than 20% of the total units approved under the SHD process.
The Government supports home ownership and has taken firm action to protect traditional family homes (from bulk purchases), while maintaining investment where it is needed. Housing for All includes the introduction of the ‘owner-occupier’ guarantee, the Croi Conaithe (Cities) Fund and the Croi Conaithe (Towns) Fund, in addition to affordable purchase, shared equity, Local Authority Home Loan and Help to Buy Schemes. Build-to-rent is not the only solution but is a legitimate form of tenure, with secure long-term professional landlords that will provide a proportion of much needed accommodation for those who wish to rent. 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 from this perspective.