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Unite Says Unite Students' Rent Discount, Tenancy Extension To Reduce FY21 EPRA EPS; Stock Down

Unite Students, the student accommodation unit of Unite Group plc (UTG.L), announced Monday a rent discount for students following the Government's latest Covid-19 lockdown announcement. The loss of rental income associated with the rental discount and tenancy extension is expected to result in a reduction to EPRA earnings of up to 8 million pounds or 2 pence per share for the 2021 financial year.

Separately, Unite Students announced the quarterly property valuation of the Unite UK Student Accommodation Fund or USAF and the London Student Accommodation Joint Venture or LSAV as of December 31, 2020.

In London, Unite Group shares were trading down 2 percent at 989.58 pence.

Regarding the rent discount, the company noted that students will be able to apply for a discount of 50% of their rent for a total of 4 weeks. In addition, they 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 January 18 and February 14.

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.

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.

Further, Unite Students noted that USAF's property portfolio was independently valued at 2.80 billion pounds, a 0.3% decrease on a like-for-like basis during the quarter and a 1.8% decrease for the year. The portfolio comprises 30,209 beds in 79 properties across 22 University towns and cities in the UK.

LSAV's investment portfolio was independently valued at 1.32 billion pounds, down 0.1% in the quarter on a like-for-like basis and down 0.9% for the year. LSAV's investment portfolio comprises 8,354 beds across 12 properties in London and Aston Student Village in Birmingham.

Overall the USAF portfolio is valued at an average yield of 5.3% and the LSAV portfolio is valued at an average yield of 4.4%, both unchanged over the quarter.

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