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05 Mar 2021 | 07:53

Unite Group extends rent discount again

(Sharecast News) - Student accommodation provider Unite Group announced on Friday that it was extending its 50% rent discount by an additional three weeks as it said that its discount and tenancy extension will impact rental income less than expected. This will take the discount period to 10 weeks, up to the end of the government's 'stay at home' guidance on 29 March.

Unite said that based on take-up of the rental discount to date and occupancy in its buildings, the total 10-week rental discount and tenancy extension is expected to dent rental income by up to £10m. This is equivalent to 2.5 pence of EPRA earnings per share for the 2021 financial year and is a lower impact than previously expected, despite the three-week extension. Unite said this reflects the high number of students now in occupation in its buildings.

It has now collected 95% of rent due to date for the 2020/21 academic year.

"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 interest coverage ratio (ICR) covenants across the group and its funds and joint ventures," it said.

Chief executive officer Richard Smith said: "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."

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