Unite Group records jump in 2023 earnings

Unite Group has seen its earnings increase by 13% in 2023, as occupancy levels rose across the year along with rent prices.

Earnings at the UK’s biggest student landlord hit £184m for the year, while earnings per share increased by 8% to 44.3p, beating the 43p to 44p target.

Unite, which operates 70,000 student beds across the UK, saw its rental income increase by 9% to £370m.

Furthermore, the group has announced that it has a £1.3bn development pipeline, with £569m committed to Russell Group cities.

Chief executive officer at Unite Students, Joe Lister, said: "This is a strong set of results, driven by full occupancy, rental growth and substantial investment into our platform and portfolio. Our pipeline of developments, asset management projects and our new university partnership present a substantial growth opportunity for the business.

"The supply-demand imbalance of student accommodation is acute and continues to intensify. We play a leading role in tackling this shortage, easing pressure on the wider housing market and freeing up homes for families.

"Our development and asset management pipeline stands at a record £1.3bn and we are taking an innovative approach to delivering more homes for students. University partnerships provide a compelling opportunity to deliver new, high-quality accommodation and our first joint venture with Newcastle University is only possible for a business of our reputation, scale and development expertise.”

Looking to 2024, Unite said it continues to see "strong demand" for its student accommodation at a time of declining numbers of HMOs, obsolescence in older university stock and lower levels of new supply.

It said that across its entire property portfolio, 80% of rooms are now sold for the 2024/25 academic year. Although this is ahead of its typical leasing pace, it is below the record reservation rates in the 2023/24 academic year, which hit 83%.

Direct-let sales have also "started well" with Unite stating that customers were looking to secure accommodation early in the sales cycle.

There has been an increase in the number of second- and third-year students renting Unite properties, leading to the group expecting to deliver rental growth of at least 6% for 2024/25, up from 5%.

Lister added: "We are trusted by students, parents and universities to deliver high-quality, safe and affordable accommodation where it is needed the most. Our strong leasing performance supports continued earnings growth in 2024 and we are confident that our all-inclusive offer, student support programmes and balanced approach to rental increases will continue to provide real value for money."

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