Housing association giant says it has faced ‘material challenges’ in first nine months of financial year

Housing association giant L&Q has warned its forecast surplus for the financial year will be lower than expected after reporting “material challenges” in the first nine months of trading to December.

The 121,000-home social landlord said it now expected to report a surplus for the year to March of between £240-£260m, £20m lower than previously predicted. It said it had also slightly reduced its expectations for the ratio of its operating income to its interest payments on debts – known as Ebitda interest cover – a key metric of financial soundness.

In an unaudited third quarter trading statement release today, the organisation blamed the reductions on higher interest rates, cost inflation, and the fact it had uncovered more defects in its homes through its intrusive inspection programme, which it said was “increasing development operating costs”.


L&Q said the number of completions was up in the first nine months of its latest financial year

However, the news came as L&Q reported another year-on-year increase in housing completions, with 3,007 homes built so far this financial year, up 5% on the first three quarters of last year. The last financial year saw L&Q build more than 4,000 homes, thought to be the most ever built by a single housing association in a year.

L&Q said it is on a trajectory to wind down its development programme after giving up in 2021 on its previous target to build 10,000 homes per year, but the update said it is nevertheless still contractually committed to £3.4bn of development in its 28,345-home development pipeline.

L&Q started work on 1,974 new homes in the first three quarters of the year, 40% up on last year, despite its professed aim of winding back its development activity, stating that the majority of starts were “later phases of existing developments”.

L&Q has previously forecast building as many as 5,000 homes in the current financial year, which it views as its likely peak of development, before reducing its homebuilding rate to around 3,000 homes per annum from next financial year onwards.

The news comes after L&Q in September admitted in its full year accounts that its initial estimate of its full year surplus for 2021/22, made in a trading update, was £53m too optimistic, meaning it had to make significantly larger writedowns than initially anticipated.