By Matthew Green, Birmingham Skylight Director at Crisis
There are many people experiencing homelessness who live in housing that comes with intensive support to help them rebuild their lives. This could be because they have had to flee domestic abuse, may have a serious mental health condition or have suffered a traumatic event in their lives.
This type of housing is called ‘exempt accommodation’ because it is exempt from housing benefit limits in order to cover the additional costs of providing both housing and support.
There are numerous good providers who are making a difference to people’s lives and helping them leave homelessness behind. However, a growing number of rogue landlords across England are cashing in on the ability to charge high rents and are forcing marginalised people to live in dangerous conditions with minimal to no support.
Crisis has launched the Regulate the Rogues campaign to support this legislation to remove rogue landlords from the exempt accommodation sector so that good providers can better thrive.
At Crisis, we want to ensure that people who need support have a real opportunity to rebuild their lives and ultimately leave homelessness behind.
What impact is this having on people in Birmingham?
Crisis’ frontline staff in Birmingham support many people who live in extremely poor accommodation and are at risk of becoming homeless if they leave. They work with people who have been made “intentionally homeless” where the conditions of the accommodation have been so bad, that they’ve had no choice but to abandon it.
Poor exempt accommodation causes a decline in people’s mental health, and it can have serious safeguarding implications. We have seen perpetrators of domestic violence living in shared properties with vulnerable women. We have seen victimisation and hostility towards tenants where safeguarding issues have not been addressed.
Exempt accommodation is often extremely expensive and leaves some tenants unable to afford to work. This takes away their ability to make choices for themselves around their housing.
There are significant issues for the local communities in Birmingham too. Where there are clusters of this type of poor accommodation, which can include houses in multiple occupations (HMOs), there can be community unrest, animosity and divisiveness.
What needs to change?
We need the Westminster Government to urgently introduce new laws in England to end this scandal and root out the corrupt landlords so that people can access the support they need to leave homelessness behind for good.
We have a clear opportunity to persuade Government to take action. This Autumn, new legislation will be debated in Parliament that, if passed, will better regulate this type of accommodation so that rogue landlords can no longer operate. The Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Bill will come before the House in November.
How can you help the campaign?
At Crisis, we need as many organisations and individuals as possible to support this proposed legislation so that the Government makes better regulation a reality. Please support our Regulate the Rogues campaign by:
- Becoming an official supporter of the campaign by sending your organisation’s logo (in PNG format) for inclusion on our website
- By sharing our campaign content on social media
- By connecting us with people who would like to share their experiences of living in exempt accommodation with politicians, and be featured in campaigns materials and/or on social media
To let Crisis know you’d like to be an official supporter of the campaign or for further details on this work, please email email@example.com
Rogue landlords are ruining lives. With good housing and support, people can thrive. Together, we can get the government to step in and #RegulateTheRogues.