Legal & General are continuing to expand their social housing operations in the UK, with a new acquisition – its largest single scheme to date – Deanston Wharf in London, which will provide 207 new affordable homes.
As a result of the recent announcement, Legal & General Affordable Homes’ development pipeline now stands at over 6,000 homes across the UK, with 1,000 homes currently in operation, worth a total Gross Asset Value of over £1bn.
According to research, 7.6 million people in England had at least one major housing problem relating to overcrowding, affordability or poor-quality housing going into COVID-19. With scarcity of affordable housing in the capital being particularly stark and development starts falling 66% during the pandemic, Legal & General is continuing to tackle the major health and wellbeing implications of poor housing in the areas which need it most. It now has over 1,000 affordable homes in operation or development within Greater London.
The Deanston Wharf development comprises 104 homes for affordable and social rent and 103 for shared ownership, spread over 4 buildings, with completion set for Q2 2023. Legal & General’s new scheme will sit adjacent to Ballymore and Oxley’s 40-acre Royal Wharf regeneration site on the banks of the Thames, benefitting from an established and thriving new neighbourhood with a high street, local pub, community centre and a Primary School.
This is a wise move for L&G and other major insurers should consider following suit. The public sector has a long track record of failure in social housing, building sink estates across the UK and outsourcing much of the day-to-day management of the housing stock to inept Housing Trusts, who repeatedly fail to deal with problem tenants, organised criminals, vandalism and more.
There are always going to be challenging circumstances surrounding social housing but the long term benefits of having private sector insurers, already used to managing stressed people from claims incidents, can only be a good thing.
For insurers, co-living and social housing offers the chance to build in insurance products as part of the monthly rent, plus the data acquisition from smart buildings; temperature, humidity, Co2 emissions in the immediate vicinity, noise levels etc can all be monitored using the latest tech. That lifestyle data has a value and it goes way beyond the insurer/landlord.
Then there are extra insurable assets, such as bicycles, e-scooters, laptops, smartphones etc that tenants wish to cover since they can have a high value. Big name insurers can become an integral part of the Great Reset, where a large percentage of the population own very little, certainly not cars or houses, but do have healthcare, travel and lower value assets well worth protecting. By being on the side of tenants, insurers can build lifetime relationships, in a way that hasn’t been seen since the days of the Man From The Pru. This time however, the communication will be via app, Ring doorbell or Alexa.