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Sadiq Khan urged to act against ‘exempt landlords’

The London Mayor has been told to act urgently against the landlords of so-called ‘exempt accommodation’ in London.

This is the largely-unregulated sector of the rental market which is aimed at providing for vulnerable tenants such as those who have recently left prison or have historically been long-term homeless.

An investigation by the London Assembly Housing Committee uncovered that some rogue providers are disregarding their safeguarding responsibilities and, in some cases, actively targeting vulnerable Londoners and placing them in unsuitable, dangerous housing.


These rogue providers charge high rents to the local council - London boroughs have spent at least £107m on exempt accommodation in the last year alone.

Supported housing offers a wide range of accommodation-based support for vulnerable people, aiming to give them independence, support and control over their housing choices. 

But serious concerns have been raised about a particular part of the sector, a type of supported housing known as non-commissioned exempt accommodation. In this sector, the usual caps of Housing Benefit do not apply, and there is no consistent regulation or oversight.

While the issue of exempt accommodation has been scrutinised on a national level and in other cities such as Birmingham, this is the first large-scale investigation into how the issue is affecting Londoners.

The Housing Committee has published its report - Unsafe and unregulated: London's rogue supported housing providers - with 19 recommendations to the Mayor and Greater London Authority on how to tackle problems with exempt accommodation in London.

Some exempt accommodation providers are charging £500 to £700 a week but boroughs currently have no way of knowing if the care or housing provided is of good quality or value for money.

Key findings include instances of poor-quality and unsafe exempt accommodation, including evidence of two homicides in non-commissioned exempt accommodation; and data from 22 London boroughs suggests around 17,100 households living in exempt accommodation, with this number increasing.

Recommendations include one asking the GLA to “immediately start work with boroughs, providers, and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime to better understand and start to tackle quality issues in exempt accommodation in London” and broaden the extent of its current platforms for reporting rogue landlords to include exempt accommodation.

Sem Moema, the chair of the London Assembly Housing Committee, says: “We want to make clear that there are good providers of exempt accommodation in London and we heard examples of excellent support and services to residents.

“But some rogue agents are treating exempt accommodation as a licence to print money, resulting in poor quality housing, a disregard for the appropriate support and safeguarding, and a dangerous environment for the vulnerable Londoners living there.

“Our investigation is the first inquiry into how the issue is affecting Londoners and we believe it uncovers both a financial scandal and a duty of care scandal.

“We urge the Mayor to take forward our recommendations to tackle problems with exempt accommodation in London and end the living nightmare for Londoners exploited by rogue providers.”

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    It is great to see that councils are beginning to wake up to the scandal of social housing. Why the cost of housing the unemployed can vary by up to 10 times, just because one is a private provider and the other is social needs to be examined. Also the lack of regulation in the social sector, they are exempt licensing and a lot of other regulations that apply only to the private sector.

    However, I I am not going to hold my breath as the link between the social sector and its regulator, the Council, is just too close.
    Jim Haliburton
    The HMO Daddy


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