Saturday, June 15, 2024

HMO landlords to skip licensing for asylum seekers

COUNCILS are growing concerned over a proliferation of bedsits, amid Government plans to exempt landlords from current rules if they house asylum seekers reports the Local Democracy Reporter.

The Government intends to exempt Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) from current licensing rules for asylum seekers in order to reduce numbers in temporary accommodation and hotels.

HMOs over six people have to satisfy local authorities licensing that conditions are being met and have to pay a fee to councils to acquire a licence.

However the Local Government Association (LGA) said: “As part of recent announcements on changes to accommodation to asylum dispersal, the proposed legislative change will temporarily exempt accommodation asylum seeker accommodation from HMO licensing requirements.

“These HMOs will be exempt for a two-year period following the date the accommodation begins use as asylum accommodation.”

The Government has said properties would not be used until they had been inspected by Home Office appointed contractors but David Garston, Southend councillor responsible for housing and planning, said: “We need to do something about asylum seekers obviously but looking after them and making sure they are run correctly is important.

“I’d still want to see the same control from the council. It’s important for the environment, the neighbours and everything else that we keep a very strong watch on this.

“I wouldn’t want to see that easing of control. I wouldn’t mind if they drop the fees as an encouragement but I do think the council needs to have that watchful eye.”

Thurrock Councillors raised concerns over the growing numbers HMOs at a meeting of the housing overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday, Joycelyn Redsell, Conservative councillor for Little Thurrock Blackshots, said:

“To me it’s quite worrying how the HMOs have grown over the last five years. We seem to be getting more and more. We had one before Christmas that came up in one street, that was ten in one street and we got that taken away because that was going to alter the street scene. Ten houses that’s an awful lot.
“It’s worrying to think there’s youngsters waiting to buy their own home and that’s going to be taken over by HMOs maybe because people buy these properties and rent them out.

Thurrock council currently has about 327 suspected of being unlicensed HMOs down from 970 in 2019.

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