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Asylum Seekers in HMOs - government to slash red tape for landlords

The government is proposing to slash the regulations on HMOs used to house asylum seekers. 

Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004 provides for local councils in England and Wales to license HMOs with controls over size, density and health and safety provisions. 

Exemptions exist under Schedule 14 of the Act for some buildings and amendments now being put forward by the government will - if approved - will effectively exempt newly-procured accommodation in England if it is used to accommodate asylum seekers under sections 4, 95 and 98 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. 


The government spends a reported £6m a day on housing some 45,000 asylum seekers awaiting processing and the amendments to the Housing Act 2004, if confirmed by Parliament, will allow more HMOs to be used - possibly at a greater than usual density - to accommodate these individuals.

The boss of one property industry trade body is critical of the move.

Safeagent’s chief executive Isobel Thomson has concerns that this could enable rogue landlords to evict existing tenants and instead house asylum seekers more cheaply in sub-standard accommodation.

She says: “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’. This is referred to in the Explanatory Memorandum attached to the Statutory Instrument.

“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.

“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.

“Safeagent urges the Home Office to consider the unintended consequences of removing HMO licensing. We understand the need to find accommodation solutions but believe that a consultation should have taken place on this important change, and not merely have been dismissed because of time constraints.”

This is the proposal from the Home Office to relax HMO controls.

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  • George Dawes

    How about prioritising housing for people on the council waiting lists ?

  • icon

    More for the immigrants again. Not for the Uk folk needing help. The tories are kicking themselves into the long grass. For yrs to get bck into government. And they not see it till too late. Then regret it and labour will f the country up AGAIN in the meantime. Oh dear.

  • icon

    A race to the bottom 🫤 oh how the once mighty United Kingdom has fallen 👎🏻

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    I operate in the HMO market and this proposal is a recipe for disaster. Filling a house with random migrants who are unfamiliar with UK plumbing, rubbish disposal, heating systems, etc and then holding the HMO license holder responsible for every half baked mistake they make.
    Nearly all of my HMO tenants are graduate professionals. Yesterday I sent them all an email reminding them about fire safety (keeping hall, stairs and landings clear and not wedging fire doors), rubbish disposal (actually taking it from the kitchen to the wheelie bin outside the front door), the likelihood of pest infestation if they persist in storing rubbish in the houses, the necessity of ventilation if they will insist on using drying racks instead of the tumble dryer.
    If highly educated British citizens need that level of instruction how on earth is it going to work in HMOs filled with migrants with limited English and the expectation that they will be housed in hotels? Has anyone thought about how it would impact on the neighbours?

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Those who make the law, do so to suit themselves.

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    Safeagent does not understand licensing. Licensing does not ensure properties are safe that is covered by the existing legislation. Licensing just creates cost, wastes time and bureaucracy..
    Jim Haliburton


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