Government plan to remove HMO license rules for housing asylum seekers

Government plan to remove HMO license rules for housing asylum seekers

0:01 AM, 4th May 2023, About 7 months ago 17

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Critics are lining up to condemn a government plan to remove the HMO licencing regulations for landlords who will house asylum seekers.

Housing and refugee charities have condemned the move as ‘shameful’ and an ‘assault on human rights’.

The condemnation follows a draft law that has been quietly published which would remove a landlord’s obligation to get a licence for their HMO (house in multiple occupation) if it is used for asylum seekers.

There are fears that removing the licence requirement is simply a way to speed up the process of offering asylum accommodation without having to wait for a council inspection.

HMO licences are a crucial part of council enforcement

Safer Renting says that HMO licences are a crucial part of council enforcement of housing standards and says the move would see asylum seekers being placed in a home ‘that isn’t fit for human habitation’.

A spokeswoman for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said the move was ‘extremely concerning’ and a ‘shameful example’ of the government’s ‘assault on the rights of people seeking safety’.

Polly Neate of Shelter told one news outlet that HMO licensing was brought in to keep people safe and by removing these protections, the government is ‘putting thousands of people at serious risk’.

‘Provided with free, furnished accommodation’

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are provided with free, furnished accommodation.

“Recent legislation on HMOs does not remove minimum accommodation standards. It exempts accommodation providers from needing a licence for an HMO in line with existing exemptions for registered providers of social housing.

“All accommodation providers will have to continue to meet or exceed the ‘decent homes standard’, including meeting all statutory and regulatory requirements relating to room sizes, facilities and fire safety.”

Enable rogue landlords to evict existing tenants

Now the chief executive of safeagent, Isobel Thomson, fears that the removal of HMO licenses could enable rogue landlords to evict existing tenants and house asylum seekers in sub-standard accommodation.

She said: “The Home Office’s proposal to remove HMO licencing requirements when housing asylum seekers is of significant concern.

“We are doubtful that the lifting of licence regulations and exemption from local licensing fees for properties used to house asylum seekers will serve them, local communities or the wider private rented sector well.

“The fact that the Government has not consulted on these proposals is worrying, as is the Home Office’s assertion that there will be ‘no, or no significant, impact on business’.”

‘More than just ensuring adequate room sizes’

Ms Thomson continued: “We must remember that HMO licensing is about more than just ensuring adequate room sizes and preventing overcrowding.

“The existing requirements are there to keep occupiers, their neighbours and the wider community safe and secure.

“HMO licencing covers a wide spectrum of issues from gas and electrical safety, to heating, light and ventilation to the provision of washing and food preparation facilities – all of which are regarded as basic human rights.”

She added: “There is a real risk that the government could create a situation where rogue landlords – who already undermine the great work being done by the majority – further damage the sector’s credibility by exploiting regulatory circumstances around some of the most vulnerable tenants.

“The Home Office also refers to a ‘robust inspection regime’ to provide assurances on the safety of the accommodation.

“But there is no detail on what criteria would be used to manage inspections, nor on how standards would be enforced.”

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11:08 AM, 4th May 2023, About 7 months ago

Whatever accommodation they get will be a lot safer than anything they've come from. The real affront is rubbing this free accommodation and energy use in the faces of those experiencing high rents and unaffordable energy costs.


11:10 AM, 4th May 2023, About 7 months ago

Non of my tenants would be put at risk if I didn't hold a license, but they would enjoy cheaper rent.

Licensing is just a money spinning exercise for councils and a rent increasing ball and chain for tenants


13:10 PM, 4th May 2023, About 7 months ago

Human rights what a load of tosh, wonder if Shelter know anything about Human rights of our own Homeless People that they all turn their cheeks away.

Whilst processing the Asylum Applications, they are given temporary shelters in very comfortable Hotels, why can't the same be done for our Homeless People instead of them sleeping rough being exposed to hundreds of dangers from thugs, urinators, kick boxers, spitters, and what not.
Charity begins at Home. ,

northern landlord

14:02 PM, 4th May 2023, About 7 months ago

What is the rationale behind this? My interpretation of this is that the Government is running out of places to house asylum seekers because the cheaper hotels are full up and plans for camps/accommodation ships etc. are stalling. To get around this they are exempting anybody with an HMO or creates an HMO from licensing if they house asylum seekers just as the already exempt social housing providers (I was not aware of this fact, just another way social housing is exempt from standards the PRS have to adhere to). No licensing surely means no inspection. If this is the case how can you be sure the HMO meets minimum accommodation standards?. Will Serco or whoever is providing the accommodation carry out their own inspection and will it be to strict or just expedient standards to get people housed ASAP so they can collect money from the Government? As for a Home Office spokesperson saying “Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are provided with free, furnished accommodation” no wonder asylum seekers strive to get here. What about providing some of that free, furnished accommodation to indigenous destitute people?

Paul Essex

18:27 PM, 4th May 2023, About 7 months ago

Does this just stop councils preventing HMOs being set up?

The rest of the wording seems to imply that all other HMO conditions will still apply

Reluctant Landlord

8:32 AM, 5th May 2023, About 7 months ago

I think the basic idea is to try and 'encourage' people into taking asylum seekers by quick statement stating they wont need an HMO licence for a property. Headline grabbing.

The government KNOW how unpopular the asylum situation is and how they are not getting people out of hotels quick enough. They also know that there is a lot of anti HMO feeling due to the rules and, be seen to cut the rules out = people may now free up homes?

Its a joke. Clearly aimed at those dodgy LL's that will now actively take on asylum seekers purely because they dont need a licence! Whats the worse that can happen as a result of this? Nothing...because they are now not in hotels. That's the only objective. The house standards etc are irrelevant.

Of course sensible Landlords will see through all this and wont sign up. The same position with the 'offers' from Serco....file under SPAM!

Rob Thomas

12:13 PM, 5th May 2023, About 7 months ago

Yet again this article highlights the double standard in regulations for social and private landlords. Shelter says exempting asylum seeker housing from HMO rules is "putting thousands of people at serious risk" yet not a word from them about these rules not applying to the social rented sector.

With housing associations we've seen unsafe properties leading to fires that killed scores of people, mold problems left unaddressed and hundreds of properties left without gas safety certificates due to administrative incompetence. Yet the likes of Shelter remain fixated with the PRS.

The Scottish government has even capped private rent increases but refused to apply this cap to social landlords or providers of purpose built student accommodation. I can't think of another category of small business that is subject to such blatant discrimination.


14:18 PM, 5th May 2023, About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Rob Thomas at 05/05/2023 - 12:13
Well said!


7:50 AM, 6th May 2023, About 7 months ago

Can you image the potential anti social behaviour issues this will create - houses full of young men hanging around with nothing to do and whose cultural views and behaviours are very different from from ours


8:18 AM, 6th May 2023, About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Roogy at 06/05/2023 - 07:50
You need only to walk into the centre of Brussels to see how this will play out.

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