Student accommodation

John Hargreaves and his colleagues are highly proactive and responsive.

David Campbell, CEO, Alumno Developments
Student Accomodation

Student accommodation is widely seen as a stand out sector in a competitive real estate market. Banks and funds continue to be receptive, helping to support impressive yields and active ongoing investment. Most commentators expect this interest to sustain through Brexit uncertainty and to compare well against other property sectors.

Penningtons Manches has a dedicated team dealing with all aspects of purpose build student accommodation from the inception of projects through to end delivery. Our specialist student accommodation lawyers combine with facilities management and other teams to deliver innovative solutions tailored to the individual requirements of their clients’ projects. We act on behalf of universities, developers, funders and investors through our offices in key centres including London, Oxford and Cambridge.

Drawing on our detailed knowledge of the sector, we are able to supply expert and cost-effective advice to all parties during a transaction. We can alert you to the risks and suggest possible contingency plans to avoid or mitigate difficulties. Our team, which has been shortlisted in the 'legal advisors - deal making' category for this year's EducationInvestor Awards, is currently acting, or has recently closed, on a range of UK schemes with a combined value in excess of £150 million. We are also actively engaged in bids in other jurisdictions.

Understanding the perspective of the various stakeholders is crucial. Student application numbers are of key importance to many universities, not only in the context of overseas applicants who have a growing choice of ‘destination’ universities within and beyond the UK, but also to maintain fee revenue from domestic students.

Schemes brought forward therefore need careful examination in terms of their committed arrangements with universities or as direct let offerings, with full or qualified facilities management support. Just as the relevant legal and commercial issues must be considered in detail, structuring to ensure a high quality product from both the banking and equity sides is essential. Our clients appreciate our extended experience in that area as well as our understanding of the range of structures that might benefit student accommodation schemes.

We offer expert advice on:

  • joint venture schemes combining land parcels with funding, build and partnership arrangements
  • forward funding and profit release agreements
  • planning agreements and advice around the Community Infrastructure Levy
  • mixed-use developments where there may be a combination of commercial rented, student and social housing providers
  • lease and nomination structures, construction and facilities management arrangements, revenue sharing and realisation approaches

Recent work highlights

Canalside regeneration scheme

Advising long-standing client Alumno Developments on its project to redevelop No1 City Locks, a derelict site in the centre of Birmingham. The mixed-use development includes accommodation for 659 students.


Fresh start for listed site

Acting for the developer on the redevelopment of listed buildings in an inner London borough to a 155-bed site. We advised on the joint venture and funding, construction and occupancy issues as well as on various other schemes across the UK.


PFI risk assessment

Carrying out a major risk review of the PFI portfolio of a sponsor in the PFI market. We evaluated five projects in a number of sectors, including student accommodation.

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Penningtons Manches LLP

Penningtons Manches LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. San Francisco is an associated office.

Penningtons Manches LLP