The Appeal of Period Properties and Why Tenants Choose History over New Builds


Brian Fox
Brian Fox

by Brian Fox

Tenants are increasingly choosing the beauty and character of rehabilitated and renovated period buildings over the temptation of sparkling new developments in the vibrant centre of London, where the contemporary and the traditional collide.  

This article explores the convincing motives behind this desire, highlighting the everlasting charm of history and the distinctive architectural elements that attract discriminating renters to historic buildings. 

Charm and Character: 

Tenants looking for a link to the past are drawn to renovated historic buildings because they radiate a timeless appeal.  

Walter of Walter Soriano London Management says, “New construction frequently struggles to capture the warmth and authenticity of old houses. The allure of ancient fireplaces, exposed rafters, and period details produces a special living environment that is timeless.” 

To illustrate, according to one source, tenants are willing to pay more for historic period properties rather than new builds for great character features within the historic period property. 

Grandeur in Architecture: 

Similarly, a big part of what attracts renters to historic buildings is the majesty of the architecture.  

As Walter observes, “Buildings from the period frequently have elaborate facades, high ceilings, and elaborate mouldings that display a degree of artistry uncommon in modern buildings. The feeling of being in a piece of architectural history is valued by tenants.” 

Tradition and Narrative: 

Selecting a historic home is a deliberate decision to make it an integral component of London’s rich history as well as a housing decision.  

Accordingly, Walter emphasises that “Tenants are attracted to the stories found within the walls of these buildings. Tenants who reside in historical buildings develop a sense of kinship with the past and take on the role of stewards of the building’s legacy.” 

Various sources suggest that the majority of Londoners do not like the rapid construction of skyscrapers in the city. The history of the major European city of London, dating back 2000 years, is being ‘irrevocably altered’ and people want to play their part in maintaining tradition and the history behind the city. 

To validate, a survey has found that the majority of Londoners do not want to live in high-rise buildings/ towers. 

Special Traits and Peculiarities: 

Period properties are recognized for their distinctive qualities and endearing eccentricities that distinguish them from the homogeneity of contemporary construction.  

“These quirks add to the character of the property, from irregular flooring to hidden alcoves as well as historical artefacts,” says Walter. Tenants value the uniqueness and character that these distinguishing characteristics bring.” 

Sense of Cohesion: 

A feeling of community is sometimes fostered among renters by period properties, which serve as the hub of close-knit communities.  

Walter muses, “Generations of people have lived in these structures. It is much more difficult to foster a feeling of community in contemporary projects than in the common areas, shared gardens, as well as historic surroundings.” 

People who are part of these communities are coming together to create an uproar to oppose the new construction of so many buildings. As the Financial Review asserts: “never before in the history of London has there been so much uproar about so many buildings – many of them skyscrapers, and most built or approved during Boris Johnson’s eight-year reign as London’s Mayor.” 

Close to Points of Cultural Interest: 

Numerous historic buildings are ideally situated close to famous sites and cultural hubs, which improves the quality of life overall.  

According to Walter, “The convenience of being close to historical landmarks, museums, and cultural institutions frequently draws in tenants. It makes the area just as desirable as the property itself, adding another level of complexity to their everyday lives.” 

Moreover, “Historic England (a public body charged with advising elected bodies on heritage matters) objected to the ‘Walkie-Talkie’ because it was outside the designated cluster of tall buildings approved in the London Plan (a regional planning document for Greater London first published in 2004, updated in 2011 and now being revised again in 2016).” 

“The ‘Walkie-Talkie’ has harmed once-cherished views of a historically sensitive part of London,” Historic England’s spokesperson, Emily Gee, stated. “London’s historic environment is extraordinary – rich, diverse and deep, and we ignore this character when considering change at our peril.” 

Another person, Weiss, indicated that: “The ‘Walkie-Talkie’ has done more than any other building to destroy London’s historic centre.” 

Putting Money Into Timelessness: 

Tenants see historic buildings as investments in everlasting beauty. This type of beauty is not a fading trend and tenants can clearly see that their investments will still have timeless beauty for many years to come. 

“Tenants frequently prioritise the enduring value of period properties, even though new builds may offer modern amenities,” Walter emphasises. These structures have withstood the test of time and are seen as investments in a lifestyle that goes beyond fads, rather than merely somewhere to live.” 

Furthermore, with a renovation, tenants/ landlords may install energy-efficient solutions on the property and reduce utility and maintenance expenses, which can result in long-term cost savings. It is highly likely that a historic build will not have energy-efficient alternatives, such as solar panels.  

Although they may initially be more expensive, renters are becoming more environmentally concerned, and this might be a deciding factor when they submit their leasing application. Perhaps an even better reason, improving the insulation of the period property saves energy costs and increases its appeal to potential tenants.  

Hence, bills are less than potential new builds that overlooked energy-efficient alternatives and insulation. Simple steps like installing double-glazed windows and adding insulating materials to the walls and roof can avoid excessive interior temperatures. 

Summary/ Conclusion: 

Remodelled historic homes in Central London have a complex charm that is intertwined with a feeling of community, architectural grandeur, and history.  

Tenants select these homes not just as places to live but also as windows into the past, combining the amenities of the present with the allure of the past.  

Tenants take on the role as stewards of the city’s history by making this decision, helping to preserve a rich and illustrious architectural legacy. 

Nonetheless, to maintain a cordial and courteous landlord-tenant relationship, landlords should take into account tenants’ rights throughout renovations, like the right to quiet enjoyment, and communicate with them honestly and equitably regarding the renovations