Exclusive: Home REIT property deals examined by UK crime agency
The National Crime Agency is scrutinising property deals involving beleaguered social housing investor Home REIT, City A.M. has learned.
A number of documents have been handed over to the National Crime Agency, and City A.M. understands the agency is considering passing them on to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the National Investigation Service (NATIS), which investigates serious organised crime relating to the public sector.
City A.M. can also reveal that London-listed Home REIT, which invests in housing for the homeless, has also begun an internal investigation into payments made to a previously undisclosed third party as part of deals where the Home REIT appears to have significantly overpaid for rundown housing stock.
In response to questions from City A.M. about allegations of bribery in Home REIT property deals, Home REIT replied in a statement: “The Board became aware of the allegations late December 2022 and they are being fully investigated. The outcome is yet to be determined.”
Home REIT said it had not been contacted by the NCA. The NCA, FCA and NATIS were all approached for comment.
The investigations come as the former FTSE250 firm is under intense scrutiny over the fragility of its business model and the quality of housing it provided to charities and community interest companies.
A number of charities have stopped paying rent to the company due the state of the housing it provides, raising major questions about the reliability of its rental income.
City A.M. revealed this month that the company’s biggest tenant, Big Help and its sister charities, struck a £5.5m rent relief deal due to the dilapidated state of housing it provided.
Noble Tree Foundation, another Home REIT tenant, has also withheld rent from the firm on the grounds it had not received contractually agreed refurbishments and rental support from the vendor or the properties.
Home REIT has repeatedly claimed that it only acquired “fully refurbished” and “high quality” properties, but following a slew of criticism it has promised to enhance its due diligence processes.