7 October 2018

Greens are asking students to think about who will take the profits from their next year's accommodation before they book where they will live. Green Councillor Tim Hamilton-Cox said: "As students start thinking about where to live in 2019 many may not be aware that the flat or house could be managed or owned in an offshore tax haven."

Research shows that a number of student accommodation providers have put the property, and sometimes the management of the property, into an offshore company. 

Cllr Hamilton-Cox said: "Of the bigger operations, the 233-room 1-3 Cable St. is part of Global Student Accommodation (GSA). GSA is ultimately incorporated in the Cayman Islands, and the Cable St. property itself is owned by a Jersey company. The site of the 631-room Bulk Rd. student village, currently under development by American company Hines, is owned by a Jersey-based company called HPH Lancaster Limited. The 11-storey tower taking form there now looks like a gesture to UK taxpayers."

Even some terraced housing is owned by offshore companies: one house on Dallas Rd is owned by a Seychelles-based company; and five further properties on Greaves Rd., Albion St. and Prospect St. are owned by a Jersey-based company under the management of Student Cribs.

"We want to share our detailed findings with the student unions of Lancaster University and University of Cumbria so that they can help students to make a positive decision to rent their accommodation from companies which pay full UK taxation on all income and gains, rather than those which are trying to steal an unfair advantage and, by doing so, undermine the country's tax base."

Notes:  As of August 2018, the Land Registry identifies around 190 properties (land and/or buildings) in Lancaster district as being owned by entities outside the UK. The vast majority of these are owned via companies incorporated in commonly-recognised tax havens like the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and Bahamas.

See The Guardian's article on the subject last May:

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