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The cities offering the greatest rental potential for Build to Rent investors

Build to Rent specialists, Ascend Properties, have highlighted which areas of the property market present the biggest potential opportunity for Build to Rent investors based on the prominence of renting. 

In total, just shy of £16bn has been invested into the Build to Rent sector and this is forecast to hit just shy of £25bn by 2025. But where should investors look to when investing into this fast emerging part of the rental market? 

Ascend analysed the number of private renters across 15 major cities and what this equates to as a percentage of total dwellings, to reveal where was home to the most demand for rental homes. 

The research shows that across England some 4.7m of us live within the private rental sector. This equates to 19.4% of all dwellings across the nation. 

However, the preference to rent is far greater across our major cities and in some cases, the private rental sector accounts for as much as a third of city dwellings. 

Manchester is the major city to offer the greatest potential to Build to Rent investors, with private rentals accounting for as much as 30.7% of the city's property stock. 

London is home to by far the highest volume of rental stock with just over one million private rental homes, accounting for 28.9% of all dwellings.

Southampton, Bristol, Nottingham, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Leicester and Bournemouth also rank high with a quarter or more of those living there doing so via the private rental sector. 

Managing Director of Ascend Properties, Ged McPartlin, commented: 

All too often we see property investment focussed around the next ‘up and coming’ location but where the rental market is concerned, success hinges on tenant demand and the ability to maintain a consistent stream of rental income.  In this respect, following the crowd is a smart move and the percentage of a population already residing within the rental sector is a key indicator of where demand is at its highest.  It’s an exciting time for the Build to Rent sector at present with investment forecast to grow considerably over the next few years. Of course, this initial growth is only part of the journey and ensuring we deliver the right developments in the right locations is also an essential part of laying these foundations.


Table shows the percentage of dwellings accounted for by the private rental sector.
Location Private Rent All Dwellings Est private renters %
England 4,725,000 24,414,000 19.4%
By Region
London 1,038,000 3,592,000 28.9%
Yorkshire and the Humber 480,000 2,441,000 19.7%
East Midlands 394,000 2,103,000 18.7%
South West 481,000 2,579,000 18.7%
East of England 471,000 2,705,000 17.4%
North West 573,000 3,300,000 17.4%
South East 666,000 3,944,000 16.9%
West Midlands region 424,000 2,513,000 16.9%
North East 198,000 1,237,000 16.0%
Major Cities
Manchester 69,676 226,995 30.7%
London 1,038,000 3,592,000 28.9%
Southampton 28,365 108,096 26.2%
Bristol 52,434 200,614 26.1%
Nottingham 36,076 138,671 26.0%
Liverpool 59,322 228,968 25.9%
Portsmouth 23,417 90,777 25.8%
Leicester 34,758 137,116 25.3%
Bournemouth 46,163 183,759 25.1%
Plymouth 27,001 119,548 22.6%
Newcastle 29,365 131,535 22.3%
Leeds 73,702 350,524 21.0%
Birmingham 84,878 441,536 19.2%
Sheffield 45,478 248,804 18.3%
Sunderland 19,099 128,540 14.9%

Dwelling stock levels sourced from and the Office for National Statistics (2019)

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