Are Utility Inclusive Rents an Open Cheque for Suppliers?

Thursday 10th March 2022, 11am – 12.05pm

Speakers: Martin Blakey (CEO – Unipol Student Homes), Richard Stott (Managing Director - Kexgill) and James Tiernan (Head of Environment and Energy - Unite Students).

Almost all PBSA has utility inclusive rents and so the headline rent is bearing the brunt of rising utility costs. Whilst electricity costs have increased by around 6% over the last year, gas prices increased by 33% in Q3 of 2021 and increases have continued to mount. The Financial Times estimated that for domestic consumers combined energy costs could increase by around £700 a family in April 2022.

Student rents are frequently set 18 months in advance as part of the normal student letting cycle, so how are accommodation suppliers dealing with the recent increase in costs caused by:

  • rapid rises in gas costs
  • unstable electricity costs (with 40%-50% of electricity generated by gas)
  • rising water usage


You can watch a recording of this forum here.


Martin Blakey – An Overview of the Sector:

  • Providers will need to be prepared to support Ukranian and Russian students and direct them to University hardship funds.
  • Government advice on visa support for Ukrainian nationals can be found here.
  • Government measures in response to rising energy costs such as council tax discounts will not be much assistance to students in shared houses.
  • Unipol has been an increase in energy use in developments due to students spending more time in their homes.


Richard Stott - Managing Director - Kexgill

  • Kexgill has a mixed portfolio and has committed to several attainable sustainability goals such as:
    • reducing annual gas consumption by 10% by 2023
    • by 2024 all gas will be provided by a green supplier
    • reducing water use by 8% by 2026.
  • There is a need to go beyond looking at 'SMART' buildings.
  • A holistic approach is necessary, there is a need to win over the hearts and minds of students rather than just reducing utlities usage.
  • Recently ran the Green Room study with Hull University Business School - for more information on the study please contact Jessica Marsh – Project Director, Sustainability Campaign Manager, Kexgill Group -

James Tiernan - Head of Energy and Environment - Unite Students

  • The ongoing uncertainty in the situation in Russia may affect gas prices further.
  • Unite house 74,000 students in 172 properties across 25 University cities and towns.
  • Many buildings are all electric (68%) with 27% gas usage, predominantly for hot water systems.
  • Unite use an all inclusive billing model.
  • Unite are able to make use of Power Purchasing Agreements, smaller providers may want to look into smaller arrangements such as Ripple energy.
  • Providers will not be fully protected from uncertainty without on site owned power generation.
  • Unite's goal is to make a 28% improvement in energy efficiency by 2030 and move away from gas completely by 2030.
  • Improvements have also been made using LED lighting and automatic controls in transient spaces, investing in air source heat pumps, cladding and windows.
  • There is a careful balance between implementing smart controls and institutionalising students' living spaces.