The Best UK REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts)

A Real Estate Investment Trust, commonly abbreviated to REIT is an easy and effective way to tap into returns from UK commercial property, residential property and property development profits. The best UK REITs invest their capital into a diverse array of property assets and projects and pay a handsome income yield to investors to reward them for the risk. 

In this article, we rank and pick our favourite REITs.

This is not financial advice, and we expect that you will perform your own research before buying shares. Consider finding an independent financial adviser if you need support in building your investment portfolio.

Best UK REITs

What is a REIT?

A REIT is an investment trust (read more about the best UK investment trusts) that specialises in property investment.

In a nutshell, to be able to use the REIT brand name, a property investment trust must:

  • Be listed on a recognised stock exchange with at least 35% of the quoted shares held by the wider public, and not a closed group of 5 or fewer individuals.
  • Distribute 90% of its tax-exempt property income profit each year as a dividend
  • Be diversified across at least three properties with each representing less than 40% of the total trusts’ assets
  • Invest 75% of gross assets into property rental assets (this can include buy-to-rent property projects)

In return for abiding by these rules, REITs are offered generous tax advantages compared to ordinary investment companies. These centre around the way that profits are taxed inside the trust.

What is the advantage of investing in a REIT?

For a general reminder of how investments are taxed, read our brief guide. Ordinary company profits are initially subject to corporation tax (e.g. 19%) before they’re distributed as dividends and taxed as dividend income for the individual investor. This is a form of double taxation, and it makes earning rent via a trust or company very inefficient compared to directly investing in property as an individual. 

A REIT receives a corporate tax exemption for rental income, subject to the rules above. This allows net rental income to pass through to an investor without incurring the ‘double tax’. With the same underlying property investments, a REIT would provide a higher shareholder return than a standard investment trust. It’s not difficult to appreciate why UK REITs are such a popular vehicle for investing in property. 

How many UK REITs are there?

Over 50 investment trusts have gained REIT status since the regime was launched in 2007. 

Here is a full list of every UK REIT listed on the London Stock Exchange at the date of writing, listed in alphabetical order.

  • AEW UK Long Lease REIT Plc
  • AEW UK REIT Plc
  • Assura Plc
  • Big Yellow Group Plc
  • BMO Real Estate Investments Limited
  • British Land Company Plc
  • Capital & Regional Plc
  • Civitas Social Housing Plc
  • Custodian REIT Plc
  • Derwent London Plc
  • Drum Income Plus REIT Plc
  • Ediston Property Investment Company Plc
  • Empiric Student Property Plc
  • GCP Student Living Plc
  • Great Portland Estates Plc
  • Green REIT Plc
  • Hammerson Plc
  • Hansteen Holdings Plc
  • Hibernia REIT Plc.
  • Highcroft Investments Plc
  • Impact Healthcare REIT Plc
  • Intu Properties Plc
  • KCR Residential REIT Plc
  • Land Securities Group Plc
  • Londonmetric Property Plc
  • LXI REIT Plc
  • Mckay Securities Plc
  • Mucklow (A & J) Group Plc
  • Newriver REIT Plc
  • Picton Property Income Ld
  • Primary Health Properties Plc
  • PRS REIT (The) Plc
  • RDI REIT Plc.
  • Real Estate Investors Plc
  • Regional REIT Limited
  • Residential Secure Income Plc
  • Safestore Holdings Plc
  • Schroder European Real Estate Investment Trust Plc
  • Schroder Real Estate Investment Trust Limited
  • Secure Income REIT Plc
  • Segro Plc
  • Shaftesbury Plc
  • Standard Life Investments Property Income Trust Ld
  • Stenprop Limited
  • Supermarket Income REIT Plc
  • Target Healthcare REIT Limited
  • The Local Shopping REIT Plc
  • Town Centre Securities Plc
  • Triple Point Social Housing REIT Plc
  • Tritax Big Box REIT Plc
  • UK Commercial Property REIT Limited
  • Unite Group Plc
  • Urban Logistics REIT Plc

Now that you’ve seen the number of UK REITs to choose from, you may realise that the task of choosing the best UK REIT to invest in is not a straightforward one.

How to pick the best UK REIT

It is possible to objectively rank UK REITs in a number of ways:

  • Longevity
  • Historical total shareholder return
  • Running dividend yield
  • Annual management charge

Although each of these is only a factor. A single ranking is not an ideal way to choose a REIT. We suggest that you consider a blend of factors and continue your research in more detail after finishing this article. 

Other fundamental considerations could include:

  1. What types of property does the REIT specialise in
  2. How diversified is the REIT
  3. Is the REIT well managed?

The best UK REITs by longevity

While the term ‘REIT’ is a relatively modern concept, many of the investment trusts existed in their current legal form long before the tax rules were introduced. Here are the top three oldest surviving property investment trusts on the market today:

  1. British Land Company PLC – Founded in 1856
  2. Segro PLC – Founded in 1920
  3. Highcroft Investments PLC – Founded in 1927

British Land’s (visit provider website) corporate history begins with an interesting ambition to expand the political enfranchisement of UK people. In 1856, ownership of land was a necessary criterion for a man to be able to vote. British Land helped to facilitate the acquisition of land by buying and selling land to individuals at fair prices. This had the effect of bringing more people into the voting pool. If it was launched today, perhaps it would be known as a social enterprise. 

Segro PLC (visit provider website) was founded just after the First World War in 1920. Initially focused on a trading estate in Slough, Berkshire, the company only removed the word ‘Slough’ from its name in 2007 by shortening Slough Estates Group to the more generic SEGRO. This was perhaps appropriate considering that through organic growth and acquisition of other property investment companies, SEGRO has outgrown its regional footprint.

Highcroft Investments PLC (visit provider website) was incorporated in 1927 in Oxford. Little is known about the original portfolio of the original company founded in the same year that the Labour Party voted in favour of nationalising the British coal industry.

An honourable mention also goes to TR Property Investment Trust (visit provider website) (LSE:TRY), which is an investment trust founded in 1905. As the trust invests in the equities of property companies rather than properties directly, it doesn’t technically qualify as a REIT. 

We’ve compiled a full list of REITs and their founding dates from multiple sources and we share this listing below to allow you to separate the ancient institutions from the modern upstarts.

REIT NameDate Founded
British  Land Company Plc1856
Segro  Plc1920
Highcroft  Investments Plc1927
Mucklow  (A & J) Group Plc1933
Hammerson  Plc1942
Land  Securities Group Plc1944
Mckay  Securities Plc1946
Great  Portland Estates Plc1959
Town  Centre Securities Plc1959
Capital  & Regional Plc1979
Intu  Properties Plc1980
Derwent  London Plc1984
Shaftesbury  Plc1986
Unite  Group Plc1991
Primary  Health Properties Plc1995
Big  Yellow Group Plc1998
Safestore  Holdings Plc1998
RDI  REIT Plc2002
Assura  Plc2003
BMO  Real Estate Investments Limited2004
Real  Estate Investors Plc2004
Schroder  Real Estate Investment Trust Limited2004
The  Local Shopping REIT Plc2004
Triple  Point Social Housing REIT Plc2004
Hansteen  Holdings Plc2005
Picton  Property Income Ld2005
Standard  Life Investments Property Income Trust Ltd2006
UK  Commercial Property REIT Limited2006
Londonmetric  Property Plc2007
Secure  Income REIT Plc2007
Newriver  REIT Plc2009
GCP  Student Living Plc2013
Green  REIT Plc2013
Hibernia  REIT Plc2013
Target  Healthcare REIT Limited2013
Tritax  Big Box REIT Plc2013
Custodian  REIT Plc2014
Ediston  Property Investment Company Plc2014
Empiric  Student Property Plc2014
KCR  Residential REIT Plc2014
AEW  UK REIT Plc2015
Drum  Income Plus REIT Plc2015
Regional  REIT Limited2015
Schroder  European Real Estate Investment Trust Plc2015
Urban  Logistics REIT Plc2015
Civitas  Social Housing Plc2016
Impact  Healthcare REIT Plc2016
LXI  REIT Plc2016
AEW UK Long Lease REIT Plc2017
PRS  REIT (The) Plc2017
Residential  Secure Income Plc2017
Supermarket  Income REIT Plc2017
Stenprop  Limited2019

The best UK REITs by income yield

REITs are ultimately property income vehicles, therefore dividend yield is an obvious way to analyse the REIT market to highlight some of the highest-performing trusts. 

And remember, investing for an 8% yield will always attract you to high-risk investments which are likely to be more volatile and possess more downside risk than lower-returning options. This is a word of warning to those who would simply invest their money in only the highest yielding REITs available. 

When ranked in this mechanical fashion, the highest dividend yield (per Yahoo Finance) are:

  1. Capital & Regional PLC
  2. Real Estate Investors PLC
  3. AEW UK REIT

We recommend that you perform detailed research into the dividend status and recent news events surrounding an investment before investing on the basis of dividend yield. Dividend yield can be flattered by a sudden drop in the value of a company. For the purposes of a dividend yield calculation, the dividend input is usually the last dividend paid by the company. 

Therefore, in the absence of fresh dividend data, an older higher dividend and a sudden crash in price can result in a high yield. What may play out, in reality, is a cut in the next dividend payment (for the same reason as the price crash). We will explore this further by looking at the top three REITs by dividend yield below:

Shopping centre investor Capital & Regional PLC (visit provider website) has experienced an 88.7% slump in share price since 2017 (see chart below). 2017 was the latest year in which the company reported a positive EBIT, at the time of writing. Having sustained such a fall in the price of its shares, the 11p dividend paid in 2020 (relating to profits from a previous period) represented a large percentage of the share price. 

REIT share price history
Source: Google Finance

The 31.25% dividend yield is thus an anomalous result. Given its financial performance, investors will have to keep their ears close to the ground and make an assessment of the likelihood and level of future dividends.

Real Estate Investors PLC (visit provider website) dividend yield of 8.97% is a more meaningful figure. The dividend history has been relatively stable, reflecting a stream of rental income. A reduction in the share price of 31% has flattered the yield metric but not in a way that distorts the outcome.

Best REIT performance
Source: Google Finance

AEW UK REIT (visit provider website) currently has a dividend yield of 7.41%. It stands out from this shortlist because its share price performance has been positive over the last 5, 3 and 1 year period. Having initially fallen by 50% during the height of pandemic panic, its price has now shot beyond recovery and posted gains in 2021. 

Best UK REITs
Source: Google Finance

Here is a list of the REITs, together with their dividend yields as of the time of writing. Please perform further research to ensure that you are looking at the most up-to-date dividend yield possible. 

NameDividend yield
Capital & Regional Plc31.25%
Real Estate Investors plc8.97%
AEW UK REIT Ord7.41%
Regional REIT Limited7.06%
Alternative Income REIT PLC6.94%
Schroder European Real Estate Inv Trust6.21%
Civitas Social Housing Plc5.78%
Target Healthcare REIT plc5.61%
Impact Healthcare REIT plc5.41%
Triple Point Social Housing REIT plc5.31%
Ground Rents Income Fund Plc5.26%
Highcroft Investments Plc5.26%
Ediston Property Investment Company5.15%
Custodian REIT Ord5.13%
Residential Secure Income plc5.04%
Supermarket Income REIT plc4.98%
BMO Commercial Property Trust Limited4.89%
Hibernia REIT Plc4.85%
Secure Income REIT Plc4.64%
Schroder Real Estate Investment Trust Limited4.31%
Standard Life Investments Property Income Trust Limited4.28%
BMO Real Estate Investments Limited4.14%
McKay Securities Plc3.99%
NewRiver REIT plc3.94%
Land Securities Group plc3.89%
Primary Health Properties PLC3.88%
PRS REIT3.88%
Assura Plc3.84%
Warehouse REIT PLC3.84%
LXI REIT3.81%
Stenprop Limited3.72%
UK Commercial Property REIT Limited3.51%
LondonMetric Property Plc3.18%
Picton Property Income Limited3.00%
Drum Income Plus REIT Ord3.00%
British Land Company Plc2.94%
Tritax Big Box REIT Plc2.84%
Empiric Student Property plc2.82%
Town Centre Securities PLC2.75%
Urban Logistics REIT plc2.45%
Big Yellow Group Plc2.22%
Derwent London Plc2.21%
Workspace Group plc2.07%
The Unite Group plc1.74%
SEGRO Plc1.69%
Great Portland Estates Plc1.69%
Safestore Holdings plc1.61%
Hammerson plc1.24%
Shaftesbury PLC0.37%
GCP Student Living PLC0.33%
Capital & Counties Properties PLC0.30%

Best real estate investment trusts by market capitalisation

Biggest doesn’t always mean best, but investors searching for diversification and flagship assets may be drawn to the REITs with the largest market valuation.

Below, we’ve ranked each REIT by its market cap so that you can sort the whales from the minnows. The largest REIT on the list, SEGRO PLC is worth just shy of £16bn, whereas the tiniest REIT is worth £8m. 

The larger a REIT, the more likely its shares are traded frequently and the bid/ask spread between the buy or sell price is lower, which translates to lower investment costs.

NameMarket Cap (£’m)
SEGRO Plc15,980
Land Securities Group plc5,248
British Land Company Plc4,799
The Unite Group plc4,447
Tritax Big Box REIT Plc4,232
Derwent London Plc3,824
Big Yellow Group Plc2,802
Safestore Holdings plc2,627
Shaftesbury PLC2,517
LondonMetric Property Plc2,482
Primary Health Properties PLC2,062
Assura Plc1,955
Great Portland Estates Plc1,919
Workspace Group plc1,551
Capital & Counties Properties PLC1,486
Hammerson plc1,430
Secure Income REIT Plc1,319
Supermarket Income REIT plc1,172
LXI REIT1,023
UK Commercial Property REIT Limited982
GCP Student Living PLC958
BMO Commercial Property Trust Limited758
Target Healthcare REIT plc743
Hibernia REIT Plc739
Warehouse REIT PLC681
Home REIT Ltd643
Urban Logistics REIT plc585
Civitas Social Housing Plc565
PRS REIT560
Picton Property Income Limited532
Empiric Student Property plc532
Stenprop Limited529
Regional REIT Limited459
Custodian REIT Ord431
Impact Healthcare REIT plc415
Triple Point Social Housing REIT plc391
Standard Life Investments Property Income Trust Limited296
Schroder Real Estate Investment Trust Limited245
NewRiver REIT plc241
BMO Real Estate Investments Limited203
McKay Securities Plc197
AEW UK REIT Ord170
Residential Secure Income plc169
Ediston Property Investment Company164
Schroder European Real Estate Inv Trust135
Yew Grove REIT PLC125
Ground Rents Income Fund Plc73
Capital & Regional Plc70
Real Estate Investors plc70
Town Centre Securities PLC66
Alternative Income REIT PLC59
Highcroft Investments Plc45
Drum Income Plus REIT Ord19
KCR Residential REIT plc8

I hope this article about the best UK REITs has given you plenty of food for thought and options to research further.