Landlord for the homeless Home Reit is forced to delay results AGAIN

Landlord for the homeless Home Reit is forced to delay results AGAIN as its auditor requests more time

Crisis-hit homeless housing firm Home Reit has been forced to delay its annual results again as its auditor requested more time to complete work on the accounts.

The firm, whose shares were suspended this month after it failed to publish figures by the end of last year, said accountant BDO would ‘not be able to conclude its work and internal review process’ by the January 31 deadline.

It partially blamed BDO’s request for ‘substantial’ amounts of data relating to its portfolio, which numbers over 2,400 properties.

More delays: Home Reit admitted its accountant BDO would ‘not be able to conclude its work and internal review process’ in time to meet the January 31 deadline

Home Reit planned to publish its results for the year to the end of August on November 28, but it delayed the figures after coming under attack from Viceroy Research, a hedge fund run by notorious short seller Fraser Perring.

Viceroy questioned Home Reit’s business model and ability to collect rent and said management were ‘vultures’ who were ‘not the people who should be entrusted to look after the vulnerable’. 

While the company branded the allegations ‘baseless and misleading’, the report triggered a more detailed audit of its accounts and caused the share price to plunge 51 per cent before its suspension from the London Stock Exchange.

Home Reit said the figures would be released ‘no later’ than the end of January. But this will also be missed.

Meanwhile, its investment adviser Alvarium hired Simpact, a social housing property manager, to help monitor its properties and provide assistance on matters such as liaising with tenants and recovering rent.

Simpact’s appointment came after Home Reit revealed last week two of its largest tenants have not paid rent since November amid a dispute over property maintenance and refurbishment costs.

The firm said Simpact would also help reassign underperforming properties to ‘more suitable’ tenants following a review, although this was not expected to affect residents.

Alvarium, a London wealth manager, has also been trying to distance itself from the trust in the wake of the scandal.

A few weeks ago, the firm decided to sell the part of the business responsible for managing Home Reit ahead of a planned listing on the US stock market.

The trust also faces a legal battle with law firm Harcus Parker seeking compensation for shareholders over claims they were ‘misled’ by the firm and associates. The claim is thought to involve institutional and private shareholders and could run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

Another activist investor has also turned its guns on the firm. Boatman Capital, which hit the headlines for targeting defence group Babcock, previously called for Home Reit chairman Lynne Fennah and audit committee head Marlene Wood to quit, saying their positions were ‘untenable’.