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Local authorities to be given powers to tackle rogue landlords in supported housing sector

Councils are to be given new powers to tackle unregulated supported housing and the minority of landlords who charge high rents for poor quality accommodation, the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing has said.

In a written ministerial statement Eddie Hughes said the Government intended “to bring forward measures to put an end to unscrupulous landlords exploiting some of the most vulnerable in our society”.

He added: “We have no intention of penalising those providers who operate responsibly. We are clear that measures must be as targeted and proportionate as possible to protect supply of housing across the board.”

The package of measures are expected to include:

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  • Minimum standards for the support provided to residents “to ensure residents receive the good quality support they expect and deserve in order to live as independently as possible and achieve their personal goals”;
  • New powers for local authorities in England to better manage their local supported housing market “and ensure that rogue landlords cannot exploit the system to the detriment of vulnerable residents and at the expense of taxpayers”; and
  • Changes to Housing Benefit regulations “to seek to define care, support and supervision to improve quality and value for money across all specified supported housing provision”.

The Minister said the Government would introduce any measures requiring legislation “when parliamentary time allows”.

He added: “We will work closely with local government, sector representatives, providers and people with experience of supported housing as we develop these measures to ensure they are fit for purpose, deliverable and minimise unintended consequences for the providers of much needed, good quality supported housing.”

Hughes also said that the Government would provide £20m for a Supported Housing Improvement Programme. Funding for this three-year programme will be open to bids from all local authorities “and build on the clear successes of the supported housing pilots”.

Commenting on the Government’s announcement, Cllr Sam Chapman-Allen, Chair of the District Councils’ Network said: “The District Councils’ Network enthusiastically welcomes these new measures. They are much needed after a period of rapid growth in unregulated supported housing. This has blighted the lives of some of our most vulnerable residents. It has also come at a big cost to the public purse. Last year we estimated that the cost of non-regulated providers to district councils was at least £70m per year.

“We’ve long been calling for stronger regulation of unscrupulous landlords and wider intervention and funding to drive up standards in the supported housing sector. We’re pleased that the Government has listened on all counts. 

“We look forward to working with the Government to implement these measures successfully and to ensure the system is fixed for good. District councils across the country stand ready to help.”

Cllr James Jamieson, Local Government Association Chairman, said: “We are pleased that government is acting on councils’ concerns about the minority of unscrupulous landlords who exploit the supported housing system for financial gain while providing poor quality accommodation and support to people in vulnerable circumstances. 

“This has a significant and detrimental impact on the lives of the people who live in poor-quality housing without the right level of support, and the wider community, as well as a cost to the public purse.

“We look forward to working with government, supported housing providers, people with lived experience of supported housing and other partners to take forward the important measures announced today and ensure this moves along at pace.”

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