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Bosses of troubled property firm left my family to freeze in… a REIT mess

Distress: Craig Hyde lives next door to this neglected Home REIT property

Struggling real estate company Home REIT markets itself as a socially responsible provider of high-quality accommodation for the homeless, but those claims ring hollow for the Hyde family.

Life in their terraced house in the seaside town of Morecambe, where the family lived happily for three generations, has turned into a nightmare due to the state of a Home REIT property next door.

Home REIT’s business is to buy real estate and then rent it out to charities which, in turn, provide beds for homeless and vulnerable adults. But the house next to the Hydes has been empty for months and has been partially demolished.

The rear of the property was toppled 18 months ago due to subsidence – and what was once an internal wall separating it from the Hydes’ dwelling is now covered with a single layer of plastic sheeting. As a result, Craig, 45, a railway worker, his wife Helen and their two children are forced to endure extremely cold and damp rooms.

The Hyde family’s woes are even more the fallout of the Home REIT implosion. The real estate company’s problems worsened in November when Viceroy Research, a company run by short seller Fraser Perring, questioned its business model.

Distress: Craig Hyde lives next door to this neglected Home REIT property

Distress: Craig Hyde lives next door to this neglected Home REIT property

Home REIT, chaired by Lynne Fennah, is embroiled in disputes with charity tenants – such as Liverpool-based Big Help – who withheld rent payments in protest at the terms of some of the properties.

Trading in the group’s shares has been suspended since the start of the year after the company failed to release its financial results on time and shareholders suffered heavy losses.

A forensic accountant investigates allegations of corruption. Home REIT is also facing multiple lawsuits from disgruntled investors.

As the company marketed itself as a socially responsible housing provider when it went public in 2020, the Hydes fear for the state of their own home.

The roof at the back of the neighboring house, whose last occupants moved in three years ago, hangs in the air, vulnerable to the ravages of Lancashire’s coastal climate. “I’m worried about what might happen to the rest of the terrace if the wind blows in there,” Mr Hyde said.

The neighboring property was bought for £130,000 by Pathway Homes Group (Morecambe) – a subsidiary of national social housing developer Pathway Homes – in November 2020.

Home REIT took control of Pathway Homes (Morecambe), through one of its subsidiaries, Home Holdings 1, within a week of buying the house. The back is demolished the following September.

An agreement has been reached with Pathway Homes (Morecambe) to rebuild the adjoining wall.

But since the company was liquidated and its assets transferred to Home Holdings 1, the Hydes have not been able to contact anyone. They say several calls, letters and emails to Home REIT went unanswered. Mr Hyde said: ‘This is our second winter in this situation and although the first was quite mild it was very cold this time around.’

“We don’t use the heating because it’s useless. It would go through the wall and the bill would be astronomical.

Plush: REIT founder Jamie Beale and his wife live in a detached house in upmarket Hampstead, north London, which they bought for £4.6million in 2021

Plush: REIT founder Jamie Beale and his wife live in a detached house in upmarket Hampstead, north London, which they bought for £4.6million in 2021

Ms Hyde, 47, a nurse discharge coordinator, said Home REIT ‘just doesn’t seem to care’ about the situation she is facing with her husband and children Cerys, 22, a nursing student nurses, and Orlando, ten years old.

The Hydes’ situation contrasts with the opulent lifestyles of the two Home REIT founders. Jamie Beale, 39, and his wife live in a detached house in upscale Hampstead, north London, which they bought for £4.6million in 2021.

The three-storey property includes four bathrooms, a master bedroom with his and hers walk-in closet and five further bedrooms as well as landscaped gardens and a separate ‘merchant’s entrance’.

Gareth Jones, 40, and his partner have a four-bedroom rental flat in trendy Battersea, south London, which they bought for £232,500 in 2007 but could now be worth £750,000.

Pressure: Lynne Fennah, President of Home REIT

Pressure: Lynne Fennah, President of Home REIT

Back in Morecambe, the Hydes were in touch with their local council but – although officials question whether Home REIT breached building control regulations – they were told the dispute was a civil matter. Mr Hyde’s mother, Patricia, said she was quoted £250 an hour plus VAT for a solicitor ‘just to lay the groundwork’ for a legal action.

She added that when her parents bought the house in the 1950s, it was surrounded by well-maintained family homes.

Patricia, a retired lecturer, said Home REIT’s purchase of 30 homes in Morecambe from Pathway was “a lucrative business using vulnerable people for their rewards”.

A Home REIT spokeswoman said repairs to the wall adjoining the Hydes’ home would now take place as an “urgent priority”.

She added that Pathway Homes Group performs repairs on behalf of Home REIT as they are “the seller of the property”.

The spokeswoman said: ‘They are responsible for carrying out the renovations and have been paid to do so.

“We have requested urgent clarification from Pathway on what is being done to address this situation.”

Minister: We must root out rogue suppliers

Action: Felicity Buchan, Homelessness Minister

Action: Felicity Buchan, Homelessness Minister

The Home REIT debacle has renewed calls for a crackdown on the unregulated exempt accommodation sector in the UK, with a government minister saying abuse of the system is “unacceptably high”.

Writing for The Mail on Sunday, homeless minister Felicity Buchan said the government planned to “end this abuse” by backing a bill to regulate the sector.

Normally there is a cap on the amount of housing assistance people can claim to prevent greedy landlords from ripping off the state. But this cap does not apply to exempt housing, which covers the cost of additional care to help residents rebuild.

Although this comes at a major cost to the taxpayer of at least £884m a year, the sector is currently under little scrutiny.

Buchan said: “The majority of supported housing providers are good and provide the right support. However, there are unfortunately malicious providers. We cannot allow public money to go into the hands of rogue landlords or vulnerable people not to get the support they need.

“But right now that’s unfortunately what’s happening… preying on the most vulnerable people in society is totally unacceptable.”

The new bill, which passed report stage in the House of Commons, was introduced by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group to End Homelessness, and is expected to allow the government to create national standards for industry suppliers. They will be required to register with local authorities and submit to inspections.

Campaigners have questioned the role of for-profit companies in providing housing for vulnerable people in return for taxpayer-funded payments.

Read the full article by Homelessness Minister Felicity Buchan at

Calum Muirhead

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