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Trading update and Q1 fund valuations

9 April 2024

Strong demand and rental growth underpinning property values

Unite Students, the UK’s leading owner, manager and developer of student accommodation, today announces an update on current trading and quarterly property valuations for the Unite UK Student Accommodation Fund (‘USAF’) and the London Student Accommodation Joint Venture (‘LSAV’) as at 31 March 2024.

Unite Students' Meridian Square development

Unite Students’ Meridian Square development


  • Continued strong demand with 86% of beds sold for the 2024/25 academic year (2023/24: 90%)
  • Confident in delivering rental growth of at least 6% for the 2024/25 academic year
  • Planning approvals for 1,450 new beds in London and Bristol
  • Property values stable in Q1 (USAF: (0.5%), LSAV 0.8%) with rental growth offsetting the loss of Multiple Dwellings Relief

Joe Lister, Unite Students Chief Executive Officer, commented:

“Student demand is strong for the 2024/25 sales cycle, reflecting the continued appeal of our fixed-priced, all-inclusive offer and a growing shortage of high-quality student homes. Together with our alignment to the UK’s strongest universities, this supports a positive outlook for rental growth for the 2024/25 academic year and underpins our property valuations.

“We continue to progress the delivery of our record £1.3 billion development pipeline, securing planning approvals on two schemes in London and Bristol. These projects will deliver much needed new student homes in two of the UK’s strongest university cities.”

Current trading

2024/25 lettings performance

Demand for the Group’s accommodation remains strong, with good progress in sales since our preliminary results. Across the Group’s portfolio, 86% of rooms are now reserved for the 2024/25 academic year, ahead of our typical leasing pace and slightly below the record reservation rates last year (2023/24: 90%). Demand from universities continues to grow with a further 1,000 beds secured via nomination agreements since our preliminary results. Demand from international students remains robust despite recent changes to UK visa rules for dependents of postgraduate taught students. International direct-lets for 2024/25 currently account for 13% of rooms, broadly in-line with the 15% let at the same stage last year.

The ongoing strength of student demand supports our confidence in delivering rental growth of at least 6% and full occupancy for the 2024/25 academic year. Our balanced approach to rental growth will ensure sustainable returns over the long term, while also remaining good value for students.

Property update

We have achieved planning approvals on two development projects in recent weeks. Our 500-bed Freestone Island project in Bristol, which is located close to the University of Bristol’s new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, has now received full planning consent. We expect to acquire the land in the coming weeks, which supports delivery of the scheme in time for the 2026/27 academic year.

Meridian Place, Stratford has received resolution to grant planning permission at committee and we anticipate securing full planning consent in the coming months. We now expect to deliver the 952-bed project for the 2028/29 academic year, following delays in our planning timetable.

At Castle Leazes in Newcastle, our joint venture with Newcastle University, a planning application has now been submitted to demolish the existing buildings. We expect to submit a planning application for around 2,000 new beds in April, which supports entry into the joint venture in Q4 this year.

We are tracking further opportunities for development, university partnerships and acquisitions in London and strong regional markets at attractive returns and expect to add to our pipeline in H1 2024.

Disposals update

We continue to recycle capital to improve the quality of our portfolio and provide funding for reinvestment in new growth opportunities. We are in the advanced stages of selling a £180 million portfolio (Unite share: £75 million), which is expected to complete during Q2.

Multiple Dwellings Relief (MDR)

As part of the Spring Budget, the Government announced the abolition of MDR for residential property transactions in England with effect from 1 June. MDR provided relief for Stamp Duty Land Tax when purchasing two or more dwellings valued at £250,000 or less, which benefitted a number of our properties.

Our independent valuers have fully reflected the increase in purchasers’ costs in the 31 March fund valuations, which has resulted in a £61 million (2.0%) and £6 million (0.3%) reduction in value for USAF and LSAV respectively. USAF is more significantly impacted due to the lower average value of dwellings (cluster flats or studios) for its portfolio.

Valuations for the Wholly Owned portfolio at 30 June will also reflect the loss of MDR. In isolation, we expect removal of MDR to reduce the Group’s EPRA NTA by around £70 million (16p) in the first half, equivalent to a 1.3% reduction in asset values at Unite share.

Quarterly fund valuations

At 31 March 2024, USAF’s property portfolio was independently valued at £2,982 million, a 0.5% reduction on a like-for-like basis during the quarter. The valuation loss reflects the one-off impact of MDR being abolished, partially offset by quarterly rental growth of 1.7%. Property yields were unchanged over the quarter at 5.3% . The portfolio comprises 27,922 beds in 71 properties across 19 university towns and cities in the UK.

LSAV’s property portfolio was independently valued at £1,938 million, a 0.8% increase on a like-for-like basis during the quarter. The valuation increase in LSAV is driven by quarterly rental growth of 1.3%, partially offset by the abolition of MDR. Property yields were unchanged over the quarter at 4.5%. LSAV’s investment portfolio comprises 9,716 beds across 14 properties in London and Aston Student Village in Birmingham.

For further information, please contact:

Unite Students

Joe Lister / Mike Burt / Saxon Ridley                                 Tel: +44 117 302 7005

Unite press office                                                                  Tel: +44 117 450 6300



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 (PBSA) serving the country’s world-leading higher education sector. We provide homes to 70,000 students across 158 properties in 23 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 Students’ accommodation is safe and secure, high quality, and affordable. Students live predominantly in en-suite study bedrooms with rents covering all bills, insurance, 24-hour security and high-speed Wi-Fi.

We are committed to raising standards in the student accommodation sector for our customers, investors, and employees. Our Sustainability Strategy includes a commitment to become net zero carbon across our operations and developments by 2030. It includes our Sustainable Construction Framework, which outlines our approach for reducing embodied carbon.

Founded in 1991 in Bristol, the Unite Group is an award-winning Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), listed on the London Stock Exchange. For more information, visit Unite Group’s corporate website or the Unite Students’ site