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Unite Group PLC - Rent discount for latest Covid-19 lockdown

RNS Number : 1551L
Unite Group PLC (The)
11 January 2021
 

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

11 January 2021

 

 

 

 

THE UNITE GROUP PLC

('Unite Students', 'Unite', the 'Group', or the 'Company')

RENT DISCOUNT FOR LATEST COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

 

Unite Students, the UK's leading owner, manager and developer of student accommodation, today announces a rent discount for students following the Government's latest Covid-19 lockdown announcement.

Students will be able to apply for a discount of 50% of their rent for a total of 4 weeks and, in addition, will be given a 4-week complimentary extension of their tenancy agreement at the end of the academic year to extend their stay into the summer. The rental discount and tenancy extension will be available to all students checked-in but not living in their accommodation between 18 January and 14 February.

The Government's latest guidance recommends that most students start their second term online until at least mid-February. There are however exceptions for certain practical courses, such as medicine, veterinary science, teacher training and social work. As such, University campuses are expected to remain open and Covid-19 testing will be offered to all students on their return to or arrival at University.

The loss of rental income associated with the rental discount and tenancy extension is expected to result in a reduction to EPRA EPS of up to £8 million or 2 pence for the 2021 financial year.

We continue to monitor our banking covenants closely and retain significant headroom against all Group debt covenants. Based on checked-in occupancy of 80% for the 2020/21 academic year and expected rent collection from students and Universities for the second and third terms, we expect to maintain compliance with all debt covenants.

Richard Smith, Unite Students Chief Executive Officer, commented:

"We recognise that this is again a particularly challenging time for all students, which is why their health, safety and security has been our priority since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The new rent discount recognises the challenges and disruption that students face following the Government's latest lockdown announcement, and we feel that taking this action is the right thing to do.

"Universities remain open, unlike the first lockdown, and we continue to have thousands of students living with us as of today. Some students studying specific subjects have already returned to University and more will be returning for face-to-face tuition during January as per Government guidelines, while for other students our accommodation is their only home. All our properties across the country remain open and operational.

"Against the backdrop of the Government Covid-19 guidelines, we are working closely with our University partners. We will continue to support students and maintain our focus to keep all students and staff safe across our properties during the pandemic."

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

Unite Students

Richard Smith / Joe Lister / Michael Burt                       Tel: +44 117 302 7005

Unite press office                                                             Tel: +44 7754 749 301

Powerscourt

Justin Griffiths / Victoria Heslop                                     Tel: +44 20 7250 1446

 

Notes to Editors

Unite Students support throughout the Covid-19 pandemic has included:

·    The first purpose-built student accommodation provider to forgo 2020 summer term rents for students returning home due to Covid-19 during the initial lockdown

·    Extended the traditional check-in period into Unite properties thereby reducing the traditional peak. Provided flexible check-in for students during September/October 2020

·    Allowed international students to move to a January start date, forgoing September - December rent

·    Option to check-in early, at no-extra cost, where students needed to quarantine having arrived from a Covid-restricted area

·    Connected students via the MyUnite digital app before they moved in so they could get to know each other in advance

·    To help foster a sense of community, introduced a Home Charter, designed to help foster a healthy supportive living environment for students

·    Increased provision and access to student wellbeing and mental health support

Enhanced student welfare services, including bespoke support for students who are shielding, support for those self-isolating, online welfare checks and a pilot peer-to-peer scheme

Online chat rooms for students in the same building, and online events run by student ambassadors

MyUnite App: students communicate remotely with Unite's teams without having to leave their rooms

24/7 support through Unite's Emergency Contact Centre and a partnership with Nightline

Welfare leads in each city and provision of additional support for students in quarantine, self-isolation or shielding

·    Unite Students was also the first student accommodation provider to have its Covid Secure status accredited by the British Safety Council.

 

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 75,000 students across 177 properties in 27 leading University towns and cities. We currently partner with 45 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 £3 billion Unite UK Student Accommodation Fund (USAF) and the £1 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

 

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