3 Jul 23
The Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Bill has passed its third reading in the House of Lords and is set to become law over the summer.
It applies to the supported housing sector – a specialist sector for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness who need to live in accommodation that comes with intensive support to help them rebuild their lives and thrive.
Due to the added help people living in this accommodation require, it is exempt from the restrictions on housing benefit that limit how much money people can receive to pay their rent. This why it is called ‘exempt accommodation’.
But this loophole is being exploited by a growing number of corrupt landlords who are cashing in on the ability to charge high rents and, in return, are forcing people at the greatest risk to live in unsafe, dangerous housing with little to no support at all.
The charity Crisis, working closely with Bill author Bob Blackman MP and numerous other organisations across the sector, has been supporting the Bill on its way through Parliament.
Through its Regulate the Rogues campaign, the charity has been calling for tougher regulations to stop rogue landlords exploiting people who need housing and support to leave homelessness behind.
When managed well, exempt accommodation can provide good quality housing and support to people who need additional help to leave homelessness behind, including domestic abuse survivors and people with mental health problems, often as a result of trauma.
But there are currently loopholes in the system which allow rogue landlords to provide sub-standard support and accommodation while turning huge profits.
The passing of this legislation will help thousands of people currently forced to live in squalor and insecurity. The Bill will strengthen the regulation of supported exempt housing in England and creates new duties and powers for local authorities to improve oversight of accommodation providers in their area and take enforcement action against providers who are not meeting acceptable standards.
Matt Downie, Crisis chief executive, says: “The passing of the Supported Housing Bill represents a huge win for people who have been forced to live in the misery of unregulated exempt accommodation. We want to say a huge thank you to every single one of our campaigners.
“We are so grateful to those who bravely spoke out about their own experiences and took the time to share these real-life accounts with Secretary of State Michael Gove. Together you have helped bring this vital change in the law.
“Through our frontline services we’ve heard real-life horror stories of people being forced to live in intolerable situations – with people experiencing violent assaults and abuse at the hands of their landlord or living in maggot-infested, mouldy rooms.
“This new legislation will give local authorities far more powers, enabling them to drive out rogue providers who are exploiting the system for profit. It should ensure that supported accommodation provides a safe home, much needed respite and a foundation from which people can rebuild their lives away from homelessness. Government must now back these new powers with the resources councils need to use them effectively.”
And Bob Blackman MP adds: “I am delighted that my Private Members’ Bill has passed through its third reading in the House of Lords unobstructed today. This is the latest step on the way to introduce appropriate regulation in the supported housing sector, protecting vulnerable tenants and rooting out the rogue landlords who have entered the sector.
“I look forward to the Bill receiving Royal Assent and becoming an Act of Parliament which will then trigger the necessary consultations with the sector and local authorities.
“Rogue landlords are now noticing that their exploitation of the vulnerable is coming to an end. The thousands of good landlords, who provide help and support for the vulnerable, have nothing to fear from the new regulation.”
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