The pros and cons of the government cracking down on rogue landlords
On 17 March, Eddie Hughes, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Rough Sleeping and Housing, made a statement on the quality and regulation of supported housing. Effectively, this is giving notice of the government measures to crack down on the landlords that charge exempt rents for poor quality accommodation and little or no support.
I hope most of us will welcome the government making progress for the sake of those who live in this poor housing. It is obviously costing the government lots of money and it has been damaging the sector.
The statement flags up three main elements of the crackdown:
- Minimum standards for the support provided. Currently, there are no current standards that can be applied, allowing some providers to get away with very poor practice. The National Statement of Expectations for Supported Housing published by MHCLG in October 2020 focussed on setting standards for the accommodation provided but not the support.
- New powers for local authorities in England to better manage their local supported housing market. – I guess local authorities are the obvious bodies to tackle the landlords who exploit the system. There should be good learning from the current pilots in Birmingham, Bristol, Blackburn, Blackpool and Hull to design a system that can be effective without being detrimental to good providers.
- Changes to Housing Benefit regulations to define care, support and supervision. – We’ve known this has been coming for some time and it is what is needed to have a real impact. However, the devil will be in the detail and you can be sure there will be some rogue landlords looking for loopholes in any new regulations.
Eddie Hughes knows his stuff and is passionate about tackling homelessness and providing good quality housing so we must hope these measures are appropriate and effective without damaging all the organisations in this space that are really good at what they do, changing people’s lives. However, it must also be a cause for concern for many providers who may be worried about extra regulation and administration that may distract them from the valuable things they do.
While these organisations will be proud of the services they provide, it will be another task to prove how they meet the minimum standards for support. Local authorities may ask for additional information to show they are good providers and not those who exploit the system. There will be new Housing Benefit regulations to understand and get to grips with, providing additional information to show how they fall within the new rules.
This is at the time when there are many other challenges for landlords – the quality of existing homes, building safety, net-zero and delivering much needed new homes, to list just a few.
As a trustee of a small housing and support provider, I can see the risk register getting a little longer and the need to invest in some additional capacity and support to get through this period.
I hope the sector will be able to contribute to the development of these measures so they have the desired impact without damaging the great work by very many organisations.
Nick is an ARK Consultant with a breath of experience working across local authorities, housing associations and non-departmental public bodies. Nick’s key areas of expertise lies in Housing management, homelessness and care & support
Nick also has experience in the full range of local authority housing responsibilities which include asset management and housing development. Nick is passionate about working in partnership to co-create solutions to improve the quality of life of residents.
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