Over the past decade, the team here at Brodies has been involved in bringing dozens of student accommodation developments to life.

Increasingly viewed as a bespoke sector in its own right, there are various key considerations which need to be addressed as part of any student scheme. Following our recent seminar, 10 things stood out as key considerations for student accommodation developments in Scotland.

1. It's popular

1.7 million full time students in the UK, a 15% rise in beds in Glasgow in 2016 and an ongoing requirement for more beds.

2. Construction

Development is subject to strict timetables to ensure that the accommodation is ready and available for students at the start of the academic year.

3. Tenure

Providers of accommodation generally own the property or take it on a long lease, sometimes under income strip arrangements. Nomination agreements are also used; the education provider takes a guaranteed number of beds in a purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) scheme.

4. Operators

There is a wider range of operators than ever before, including higher education institutions, funds and investors, dedicated PBSA providers, and individuals.

5. Student tenancy agreements

By the end of 2017, private providers of PBSA with over 30 beds and appropriate planning consent will be exempt from the requirement to use the new private residential tenancy that will replace Short Assured Tenancies.

6. Landlord registration

Every landlord of residential property in Scotland, including student accommodation, must register as a landlord with the relevant local authority.

7. Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

In addition to a registered landlord, premises shared by three or more unrelated students who share kitchen and bathroom facilities must have an HMO licence issued by the relevant local authority which must be renewed either annually or every three years.

8. Tenant deposit schemes

Tenancy deposits must be properly registered and protected in a Deposit Scheme in accordance with the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011.

9. Planning

Some permissions seek to prohibit occupation as mainstream residential accommodation, or use outwith term time as holiday lets.

10. Tax

If the relevant tests are met, zero rating for VAT purposes can be achieved in respect of construction and first sales. If the relevant conditions are complied with, significant savings can be made by the use of the residential LBTT rates and Multiple Dwellings Relief.


Chris McDaid