Belfast is set to see its first build-to-rent (BTR) residential scheme following the submission of a planning application for a 19-storey apartment building in the city's Cathedral Quarter.
Should it get the go-ahead, the proposed £15m development by joint venture partners Lacuna and Watkin Jones would see the delivery of 105 one- and two-bed apartments on a site now occupied by a derelict building and surface car park.
Build-to-rent has been gaining traction in Dublin for some time now, with numerous developments either under way or in the process of being planned by major real estate companies such as Ires Reit, Kennedy Wilson, Hines Ireland, Marlet Property Group and the Cosgrave Property Group.
The increasing appetite for long-term rental over home ownership is being driven by a range of economic and societal factors. Quite apart from the shortage of housing supply and the relative dearth of mortgage finance, a recent report by real estate agents CBRE pointed to the changing nature of Ireland's demographics and living preferences.
CBRE noted that the proportion of renters here grew by 4.7pc in the five-year period between 2011 and 2016, to 497,111 households - or nearly 30pc of the population.
Looking at occupancy by age group, the report found younger people have a higher propensity to rent, with 65pc of the Dublin population aged 25-39 renting from a landlord. In the same age segment, 26pc of people own their home with the remainder renting from a local authority.