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PBSA update – include utilities in costs and Irish PBSA scheme announced

Research by a student accommodation platform has found that the majority of student tenants would like to see utility costs more widely included within the cost of student rental properties.

The study by UniHomes shows that 68% of students would be more likely to rent a property that includes utilities.  

Many are willing to pay for this added convenience, with 64% of students surveyed also stating they would happily pay a rental premium if it meant utilities were included.


When asked which utilities they would ideally like to see included within the cost of renting a property, students ranked the basic living essentials with the greatest importance.

Electricity (55%), water (53%) and gas (51%) scored high, as did WiFi (47%), which is arguably one of the most essential requirements for the modern-day student. In fact, previous research conducted by UniHomes discovered that 58% of students won’t rent a property with poor WiFi.

Phil Greaves, co-founder of UniHomes, comments: “It’s clear that including utilities within the overall cost of renting can considerably boost the appeal of a rental property. Not only is this greater convenience extremely sought after amongst student tenants, but the figures suggest that there is also a shortage of letting agents offering the additional service.”

“Of course, there is a reason for this, as organising multiple utility contracts and the ongoing management of the process is an extremely time-consuming endeavour for landlords and letting agents.”

With the rise of streaming platforms such as Netflix, it’s unsurprising to see that just 25% of students would like to see a TV licence included within the cost of renting, too.

Despite this demand for utility rental utopia, just 30% of students stated that their current rental property included utilities within the cost of renting.

Multi-million-pound PBSA scheme in Belfast announced

Elkstone Partners has announced its acquisition of a site on Belfast’s Bradbury Place, where a £20 million purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) and retail scheme will be developed.

30-44 Bradbury Place is the first acquisition in Northern Ireland for the Real Estate division of the investment firm.

Development of the site will result in an additional 156 student beds for the 2022/2023 academic year, as well as 3,900 sq ft of ground floor retail space fronting on to a heavy footfall area of the city.

PBSA update – include utilities in costs and Irish PBSA scheme announced

Commenting on the acquisition, Ciarán McIntyre, chief commercial officer at Elkstone Partners, says: “Bradbury Place is an extremely exciting project to mark our entrance to the Northern Ireland market with a significant investment of international capital.”

“Our focus is to proactively assist our clients in selecting investment prospects that are directly tailored to their individual needs, and we will be seeking further investment opportunities in the north.”

He adds: “Purpose-built student accommodation continues to be a fast-growing sector, and having seen activity surge across Ireland and the UK in recent years, we identified Bradbury Place as an opportunity to develop this market in Northern Ireland.”

According to McIntyre, the development will significantly enhance the student accommodation offering in Belfast, particularly in the popular Queen’s Quarter of the city.

“The 3,900 sq ft of commercial space on the ground floor also presents an excellent opportunity for a retailer keen to capitalise on the increased footfall expected from the regeneration of this streetscape,” he says.

PBSA update – include utilities in costs and Irish PBSA scheme announced

Elkstone has a rich pedigree in purpose-built student accommodation having been involved in the planning, construction and operation of more than 2000 beds across the UK and Ireland.

The scheme at Bradbury Place, conveniently located just minutes from Queen’s University, Belfast, has received planning permission from Belfast City Council for 100 cluster and 56 studio beds over six floors, and will ramp up the student accommodation offering in the city with a host of facilities and amenities.

McIntyre concludes: “Purpose-built student accommodation has been a key strand of our real estate investment strategy for a number of years, and with clear demand for such accommodation in Belfast we are certainly keen to explore further opportunities.”


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