Shabana Mahmood MP Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Ladywood
Shabana has written to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities regarding a landmark report into the exempt accommodation sector.
Prospect Housing has launched a landmark report into the exempt accommodation sector, detailing what must be done to protect vulnerable residents and rein-in unscrupulous operators.
Shabana has long campaigned for stronger regulation of the sector, lobbying successive government Ministers to intervene.
In her latest letter, Shabana calls upon the Secretary of State to work with the Department for Work and Pensions to examine the findings of the report and implement its recommendations.
You can read the letter in full below.
Letter to the Secretary of State
Dear Secretary of State
I am writing to you in your capacity as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, following the publication of Prospect Housing’s report: A shared vision for better homes, support and opportunities, to ask you to consider the findings in relation to the exempt accommodation sector.
In a sector first, Prospect have created a report that documents its own shortcomings after its closure earlier this year, in an attempt to help other providers, learn from their mistakes and safeguard the wellbeing of vulnerable people living in exempt accommodation.
As you will know, the sector was brought into existence to acknowledge the higher costs associated with supervised accommodation and meeting the provision of “care, support and supervision”. Units are free from rent restrictions and spared strict adherence to local authority planning and licensing rules – the ‘exempt’ part. However, this brings significant opportunities for rogue landlords to exploit our most vulnerable people, by cramming them into unsafe properties and charging extortionate amounts to line their own pockets.
Prospect estimate that the Exempt Accommodation sector is costing local authorities (and therefore taxpayers) £1 billion a year, but there are a number of regulatory and legislative loopholes that allow unethical operators to boost their profit without providing the support that those residents desperately need. They found that there are examples of tenants who had conquered a drug addiction placed in homes rife with substance abuse or providers classifying a small percentage of their portfolio as social housing and reaping enhanced housing benefit for the rest. Properties have also been let at exempt rents that are owned by Directors, family, or at worst, those involved in organised crime.
Birmingham Ladywood has a significant number of exempt accommodation properties and I have long been campaigning for the Government to close those loopholes, which are enabling cowboy landlords to exploit their tenants with a range of abuses including forged rental agreements, accommodation unfit for human habitation, assault and antisocial behaviour.
Despite the rife examples of malpractice and abuses of unscrupulous providers, the regulator has little power, and the government has been slow to act. I hope that in your new role as the Secretary of State, you prioritise implementing the urgent reform that is needed for the 106,000 people living in Exempt Accommodation.
I ask you to read Prospect’s comprehensive report and work across government, including with the Department for Work and Pensions, to review and implement its recommendations.
Member of Parliament for Birmingham Ladywood