INVESTIGATION: £300 million of student housing linked to tax havens

‘Rotten to the core’: £300m of student housing linked to tax havens

tax havens scotland's secret owners


In co-operation with THE DEMOCRAT

Student accommodation buildings in Scottish cities collectively worth over £300m are directly owned by firms registered in offshore tax havens, an analysis by The Ferret has found.
Scotland's Secret Owners property scottish tax havens
The 27 properties – in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow and Stirling – are all ultimately owned by global firms and investors through holding companies set up offshore.
Among others, the ultimate owners of the student blocks include a partnership involving the Singapore sovereign wealth fund, and Blackstone, a US investment company whose boss has links to Donald Trump.
Our findings have prompted concerns about the growing role of private firms registered in tax havens providing student accommodation.
The National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland said students were at the “mercy of predatory profiteering” and claimed 12 per cent have experienced homelessness due to “exponential increases in rent”. One Scottish Greens MSP claimed some accommodation providers were “only too happy to treat students as cash cows and make them pay rip-off rates”.
The owners of the properties told The Ferret they comply with UK tax rules.
The tax haven companies were identified by a Ferret analysis of a new register, which has forced property owning companies based overseas to disclose their true owners for the first time.
The actual value and number of student halls owned by companies linked to tax havens may be higher than shown by our analysis, but it is not always possible to identify them in data from Registers of Scotland.
Properties owned by tax haven firms include nine accommodations in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen managed by Student Roost, a UK firm which has 21,000 student beds. They also include Buchanan View halls, which is close to Glasgow Caledonian University, and the University of Strathclyde. Students there pay £235 a week for a one bedroom apartment.
Buchanan View – valued at £38.9 mm – is purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA). The Scottish Government describes PBSA as “accommodation specifically designed, built or adapted for the purpose of housing students”, which may be located on – or off – campus, and owned or managed by a university, private or third sector provider, or some combination.
According to title deeds purchased from Registers of Scotland, the nine Student Roost properties are all directly owned by holding companies registered in Luxembourg. Student Roost was bought by a partnership involving the Singapore sovereign wealth fund and Greystar Real Estate Partners last year. Greystar pointed out it has no links to Donald Trump, but declined to comment.

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