Unite Students, the UK's leading owner, manager and developer of student accommodation, announces the quarterly property valuation of the Unite UK Student Accommodation Fund (‘USAF’) and the London Student Accommodation Joint Venture (‘LSAV’) as at 31 March 2020.

At 31 March 2020, USAF’s property portfolio was independently valued at £2,788 million, representing a like-for-like decrease of 2.2% during the quarter. The portfolio comprises 30,209 beds in 79 properties across 22 University towns and cities in the UK.

LSAV’s investment portfolio was independently valued at £1,315 million, down 1.5% in the quarter on a like-for-like basis. LSAV’s investment portfolio comprises 8,354 beds across 12 properties in London and Aston Student Village in Birmingham.

The like-for-like valuation decrease for both USAF and LSAV is driven by the impact of Coronavirus, which has led to an anticipated reduction in income resulting from the Company's previously announced decision to forgo rent for students who choose to return home for the remainder of the 2019/20 academic year. The valuations include no rental growth during the quarter. Overall, the USAF portfolio is valued at an average yield of 5.3% and the LSAV portfolio at an average yield of 4.4%, both of which are broadly unchanged over the quarter.

In light of current market uncertainty created by Coronavirus, the valuations have been reported on the basis of ‘material valuation uncertainty’ in line with recent RICS guidance.

Current trading

Requests by students wishing to cancel the remainder of their contracts for the 2019/20 academic year are currently being processed. We are also working closely with our university partners and will continue to provide accommodation through our nomination agreements and to all those students who are staying with us. As previously guided, we expect a reduction in Group cashflow of £90-125 million in 2020, which includes reduced income for the summer semester of 2019/20, a significant reduction in summer business and an allowance for an impact to the start of the 2020/21 academic year. We currently expect that the 2020/21 academic year will commence on broadly the same timetable as prior years, reflecting the Government’s proactive decision to cancel A-Level exams this year.

Reservations across the Group for the 2020/21 academic year are currently at 79%, in line with the same time last year (79%). However, we recognise there is a risk that travel restrictions imposed to combat Coronavirus result in a reduced intake of international students for 2020/21. We are shifting the emphasis of our marketing to target the c.1.2 million students who we know have an accommodation requirement for the new academic year. This includes international students studying multi-year courses and domestic students living away from home, including those who might otherwise stay in houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs). We will also maintain a close dialogue with our university partners as their accommodation requirements for 2020/21 become clearer.

Joe Lister, Unite Students Chief Financial Officer, commented:

“Our decision to forgo rent for students who choose to return home for the remainder of the current academic year as a result of the Coronavirus crisis has impacted valuations for the period. However, we are confident that our actions will ensure that we emerge from this uniquely challenging period with our reputation with students and Universities, not only protected but enhanced.

Over the coming weeks we will have greater visibility over the income we expect to receive for the summer semester of 2019/20. Our operating platform provides us with the flexibility to rapidly implement new marketing strategies for 2020/21 and reduce costs where appropriate.”

 

For further information, please contact:

Unite Students

Richard Smith / Joe Lister / Michael Burt

Tel:  +44 117 302 7005

Powerscourt

Justin Griffiths / Victoria Heslop                         

Tel: +44 20 7250 1446