A private members bill that aims to raise the quality and safety of unregistered HMO hostels has had its first reading.
Labour MP Steve McCabe’s Supported Accommodation Bill highlights the problem of HMOs being used as supported exempt accommodation – where operators are supposed to support residents.
“My experience is that much of the non-commissioned accommodation is anything but supportive and has become a goldmine because of the ease with which owners receive government money for vulnerable people in desperate need of accommodation,” he told MPs.
“It can be supplied by a wide variety of people and not all are as reputable as we might hope.”
McCabe pointed to a lack of rules over the size of rooms, kitchen and toilet facilities, restrictions on numbers or the suitability of owners or managers.
He said neighbours and vulnerable occupants were sometimes threatened by occupants while it was often difficult to identify the owner or managers.
The MP called for providers to be subject to routine monitoring along with background planning checks for properties.
He added: “We need to be clear about who is responsible for managing and supervising such accommodation as well as who owns it. Both should be subject to fit and proper person checks.”
The Local Government Association tells LandlordZONE that councils want to help people in vulnerable circumstances live in a safe and suitable home with personalised support.
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, chairman of its community wellbeing board, says: “The forthcoming Spending Review is an opportunity for Government to sustainably fund the housing accommodation and support costs of all types of supported housing.
“This will encourage a diverse range of providers, and to fully fund councils to have the lead role in overseeing and ensuring supported housing is good quality, value for money and fits in with wider local services such as homelessness prevention.”
The Bill gets its second reading on 15th January.