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Adams and Adams Advises Property Consortium on Landmark Student Accommodation Transaction

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Published Date: February 10, 2022

The Adams and Adams corporate commercial team is proud of its role in the ground-breaking transaction that saw Growthpoint launch its first local unlisted, purpose-built student accommodation real estate investment trust (REIT) and assemble a seed portfolio worth R2 billion.

The firm’s corporate commercial team acted for the consortium of vendors of the REIT’s seed portfolio, which comprised various Johannesburg and Pretoria based student accommodation developers. The deal took several months to finalise and was particularly complex given, amongst other things, the number of parties involved.

“Working closely with our clients, colleagues and various stakeholders, we were able to use our legal capabilities effectively in completing this landmark transaction. While we are proud of the end result as a corporate commercial team, we also feel we have played a beneficial role in helping to overcome a huge challenge facing South Africa’s student population, where demand for accommodation outweighs supply. The REIT is making student housing more affordable and accessible and creating a living environment that supports our country’s future leaders in their tertiary education ambitions,” says Helgard Janse van Rensburg, Partner at Adams and Adams.

According to the Department of Higher Education and Training, a student housing survey in 2020 revealed that there is insufficient private accredited student accommodation available near tertiary education campuses. Since then, the government’s goal has been to increase the number of beds provided to 30 000 a year.

Supporting the government’s target through private sector investment, the Growthpoint Student REIT, launched in December 2021, is built specifically for tertiary education by private developers and is designed to be student-centred. The seed portfolio comprised seven high-quality student residences in Pretoria and Johannesburg, providing 5 000 modern beds near university campuses.

Growthpoint has been appointed as asset manager on behalf of the REIT and Feenstra Group as property manager of the REIT’s student accommodation portfolio.

“This is a very exciting transaction for us that required the services of a legal team who could understand the multiple stakeholders’ needs. With the support from Adams and Adams, we were able to achieve an outcome that realised many years of effort invested in our award-winning student accommodation portfolio while playing our part in addressing a critical shortage of accommodation within our tertiary education system,” says Pieter Feenstra, on behalf of the consortium of vendors.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme supports 60% of students in the fund’s initial portfolio, who are largely from low-income households.

Helgard Janse van Rensburg

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