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Unite cuts student rent by half during lockdown

Ayton House St Andrews student

Accommodation costs will be reduced

Students will see their rents cut by half after Britain’s biggest owner of accommodation, announced a discount during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Unite Students said it will accept applications for a 50% rent discount for four weeks.

Students will also be given a four-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 UK 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.

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The loss of rental income associated with the rental discount and tenancy extension is expected to result in a reduction to earnings per share 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,” said Unite Students.

“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, added: “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.”



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