5 March 2021
THE UNITE GROUP PLC
('Unite Students', 'Unite', the 'Group', or the 'Company')
ADDITIONAL RENTAL DISCOUNT
Unite Students, the UK's leading owner, manager and developer of student accommodation, today announces an additional three-week extension to its 50% rent discount for students, originally announced on 11 January. This takes the total discount period to 10 weeks, up to the end of the Government's stay at home rule on 29 March.
The ten-week rental discount and four-week complimentary tenancy extension will be available to students not living in their accommodation between 18 January and 28 March 2021. Approximately 60% of checked-in students have now returned to our buildings.
The decision has been taken following publication of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown, set out on 22 February, which includes an end to the stay at home rule on 29 March. Subject to no further major changes in Government guidelines, this will be the Group's final rent discount relating to Covid-19.
Based on take-up of the rental discount to date and occupancy in our buildings, the total 10-week rental discount and tenancy extension is expected to result in a reduction in rental income of up to GBP10 million (Unite share), equivalent to 2.5 pence of EPRA EPS for the 2021 financial year. This represents a lower impact than previously anticipated, despite the three-week extension to the discount, reflecting the high number of students now in occupation in our buildings.
Update on cash collection and debt covenants
We have now collected 95% of rent due to date for the 2020/21 academic year.
To be eligible for the rent discounts, students are required to be up to date with their rental payments.
Given the strength of our cash collection, scheduled payments by Universities and physical occupancy in our buildings, we are confident in retaining headroom under all our ICR covenants across the Group and its funds and joint ventures.
Headroom under our ICR covenants is expected to increase materially from Q2 2021 as the material impact of tenancy cancellations in Q2 2020 are removed from the 12-month historical ICR calculation.
Richard Smith, Unite Students Chief Executive Officer, commented:
"Since the outbreak of Covid-19, we have strived to play our part and do the right thing for our students in a fair and proportionate way. We also know from our own survey of students that the majority want to return and enjoy University life. This final rent discount means we will have provided a total of 10-weeks of financial support while students were asked to stay at home by the Government.
This comes on top of the waiver of rent for the third term of the 2019/20 academic year during the first national lockdown, when we were the first provider of PBSA to offer this.
"All our properties continue to remain open, as they have throughout the pandemic. Like any private landlord, we do not normally provide refunds for time students choose to spend away from a property during a tenancy. However, we acknowledge that students have faced challenges this year and that's why we have supported them consistently through the pandemic.
We remain committed to ensuring that students can continue to experience the real life-long benefits of university life."
1. Survey of 2,000 students for Unite Students by Yonder Data Solutions from 10 to 14 February.
For further information, please contact:
Richard Smith / Joe Lister / Michael Burt Tel: +44 117 302 7005
Unite press office Tel: +44 7754 749 301
Justin Griffiths / Victoria Heslop Tel: +44 20 7250 1446
About Unite Students
Unite Students is the UK's largest owner, manager and developer of purpose-built student accommodation, serving the country's world-leading Higher Education sector. We provide homes to 76,000 students across 180 properties in 27 leading University towns and cities. We currently partner with over 60 Universities across the UK.
Our people are driven by a common purpose: to provide a 'Home for Success' for the students who live with us.
Unite's accommodation is safe and secure, high quality and affordable. Students live predominantly in ensuite study bedrooms, with rents covering all bills, insurance, 24-hour security and high-speed Wi-Fi. We also hold a five-star British Safety Council audit rating.
Founded in 1991 in Bristol, Unite Group is an award-winning Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), listed on the London Stock Exchange and a member of the FTSE 250 Index.
Unite is invested in and operates two specialist funds and joint ventures with institutional investment partners: the GBP3 billion Unite UK Student Accommodation Fund (USAF) and the GBP1 billion London Student Accommodation Vehicle (LSAV).
For more information, visit:
Unite's corporate website www.unite-group.co.uk
The student site www.unitestudents.com