Real Estate

Student Accommodation

Despite a challenging economic backdrop, the student accommodation sector is proving its resilience and record levels of investment were seen in the UK student accommodation market in 2022.


"Students walking.

Both international and UK investor appetite is robust but the purpose-built sector faces increasing challenges to ensure housing remains competitive against a backdrop of increasing operational costs and student expectations from their accommodation.

Rising numbers of university students and a lack of supply of student beds demonstrates the continued demand for student accommodation. Historically PBSA models were perceived as expensive, particularly when compared to the private rented sector. However with the cost of living crisis now at the forefront of many students (and their family's) minds, particularly around the uncertainty of rent and utility cost inflation, fixed cost models are proving to be very attractive and demand is expected to increase.

Investor and lender appetite remains active and the overall expectation is that the sector will see continued growth and opportunities in the coming years.

Our dedicated team at Howard Kennedy are invested in understanding our PBSA clients business needs and work to provide strategic advice on opportunities and challenges that the sector presents.

The team acts for a wide range of clients in the sector including developers, investors, lenders, contractors, purchasers and sellers and consequently are well versed in understanding the needs and concerns each party faces. This broad knowledge allows the team to deliver strategic, commercial and pragmatic advice which aligns to the interests of the client, as well as anticipating early on the position of the parties involved and provide solutions to possible issues which may arise. It also enables us to respond quickly to the changing regulatory environment, particularly around building regulations, planning, energy and sustainability.

We also have experience of dealing with both domestic and international clients and have worked on several cross-border transactions in the sector.

For further information on how our team can assist please see below:

Recent Experience

Student accommodation exterior.

Property Site Acquisition

We act on all aspects of site acquisition, including due diligence and title reviews for the simplest of acquisitions, through to advising and negotiating on different arrangements such as options, conditional contracts, forward funding arrangements, overage agreements. 

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Corporate Sales and Purchase

We act on acquisitions and sales of both single and multiple asset portfolios through the sale or purchase of the corporate wrapper holding the assets (including sales and purchase of shares, partnership interests, JPUT structures etc.). We also have experience in dealing with the sale and acquisition of multiple asset portfolios via bid process.

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Student accommodation exterior.
Student accommodation inside.

Development and Construction

We advise on contentious and non-contentious construction law covering advice on development management agreements, development agreements, building contracts, review and negotiation of construction contracts, collateral warranties, third party rights and professional appointments.

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We guide clients through the planning lifecycle of student accommodation development, from advising on the submission of planning applications, negotiating complex planning agreements required to obtain planning permission including advising on biodiversity land requirements. We also advise on the community infrastructure levy and negotiate highway agreements. We work closely with our clients on planning appeals to deliver the right outcome.

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students walking inside.
Student accommodation exterior.


We advise lenders and borrowers on a broad range of banking and finance matters and development financing on both syndicated and bilateral format facilities. 

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Energy and Sustainability

We advise on ways to improve and future-proof your building's sustainability and energy efficiency. Including, reducing energy costs by incorporating solar PV panels, integrating battery storage to take advantage of the electricity price arbitrage; installing low carbon heat generating plants, incorporating EV charge points as an additional revenue stream and/or installing energy efficiency measures at relatively low capital expenditure.

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Student accommodation bedroom.
Student accommodation by the river.

Joint Ventures

We have extensive experience acting on joint ventures (JV), typically between developers and investors but, also between operators and lenders. This includes drafting and negotiating all types of JV arrangements from contractual profit share arrangements through to shareholder, partnership and LLP arrangements. We work closely with our clients tax team, to ensure the most optimum tax structure is utilised.

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Investment Structures

We advise on all types of investment structures including UK corporate structures, JPUTs and LP/LLP's, with extensive experience launching REITs, advising established REITs and other listed investment vehicles. We are unique among English law firms offering clients looking to set up listed investment funds, such as REITs, with sponsorship services and legal services, providing a seamless service with one advisor.


Student accommodation kitchen.
Student accommodation exterior.

Tax Structuring Advice

We work with clients in all PBSA tax matters, from issues on the acquisition and development of sites, through to the construction phase including VAT structuring to maximise recovery. We advise on joint venture arrangements, acquisitions and disposals of assets and corporate real estate transactions. We cover all relevant taxes including corporation, VAT, SDLT and the construction industry scheme.

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We can assist with all your employment needs. From ensuring you have the right foundations in place with contracts, policies and incentive schemes tailored to your needs, to assisting you to grow your business and workforce through investment, mergers and acquisitions.  We also advise on grievances, terminations and long term sickness absence and handling employment litigation.

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Student accommodation social space.


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