Occupancy rise bolsters accommodation group Unite's performance

Unite, the student accommodation group, has announced a strong lettings performance for the 2013/14 academic year, boosted by a rise in student occupany. Average occupancy reached 98 per cent, compared with 96 per cent for the same period a year ago. The update covers the period from 1 July to 15 November. (Release)

The group said it's on track for three per cent rental growth for the full year. Chief executive Mark Allan said that the company is set for long-term growth: "our established brand, strong University relationships and positive market fundamentals, form the basis of our plans for long term sustainable growth."

As part of its London development, the company secured a site and planning consent for 700 new beds in Wembley Park, to be delivered in 2016. Unite has 3,372 student beds in Liverpool at 10 halls of residence. The investment market for student accommodation assets continues, it says, "to mature, with approximately £1.65 billion of transactions concluded year to date."

During the period, the company secured three prospective projects under lock-out agreement and is looking towards exchange of contract. "Together, the three prospective projects would account for approximately 75 per cent of [its] planned regional development programme and all are supportive of our target returns of 9.5 per cent- 10 per cent yield on cost."

Unite remains on track to deliver its strategic priorities, adding that the business is generating "deeper and more effective brand loyalty, establishing a clear leadership position in the sector which resonates with students, their parents and Universities."