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Bill to tackle rogue landlords passes key test in Parliament

The UK Houses of Parliament, viewed from the south bank of the Thanmes.

The landmark Bill to tackle rogue landlords who exploit people who need housing and support to leave homelessness behind has been approved by a key committee of MPs. Here’s what you need to know - and what happens next

On Wednesday 11 January 2023, a key committee of MPs gave unanimous approval for a Bill to stop rogue landlords profiting from housing people with support needs in substandard accommodation without the support they were promised.

This legislation, which is being led through Parliament by Bob Blackman MP, follows months of campaigning by Crisis supporters in support of our Regulate the Rogues campaign.

The Bill received its first backing from MPs in November 2022.

There are further stages to clear before the Bill can become law, but this is an important step towards making sure people at risk of homelessness can access genuinely supportive accommodation and are not pushed towards rogue landlords.

“An absolute blight on our housing system”

Exempt accommodation is shared housing for people with support needs. This includes people fleeing domestic abuse, people experiencing homelessness and those with mental health difficulties.

It’s exempt from the usual caps on housing benefit, meaning landlords can charge higher rents – in return for offering support.

There are many good providers working hard to support their residents to live independently and move on to a home of their own.

However, a lack of regulation has allowed rogue landlords to enter this system and exploit it for profit. Many offer little or no support despite charging high fees. They fail the people they are meant to protect and pocket the money that it is intended to cover the costs of supporting their residents. Crisis CEO Matt Downie has described the behaviour of these rogue landlords as an “absolute blight on our housing system”.

This can have a huge negative impact on residents. We’ve heard stories of people living under the threat of intimidation, bullying and abuse and in houses infested with mould and rodents. No one should have to face this.

The Bill aims to tackle this issue while ensuring good providers can continue to support people

Your support is vital

This is another big milestone for the Regulate the Rogues campaign. Crisis members have shown huge bravery in speaking out about their own experiences of living in unacceptable conditions. And more than 8,000 of you signed our open letter or emailed your MP asking them to act.

This effort helped to support the Bill through its first stages before Christmas, when MPs voted to accept the Bill for full consideration by Parliament (called the first and second reading)

Rogue landlords “completely unacceptable”

The Bill has now passed through its committee stage, which is where a smaller group of MPs come together to debate and discuss the details of a new law.

At this stage, they can propose changes, or amendments The committee is always fully cross-party, with a balance reflecting the makeup of Parliament overall.

MPs noted that the behaviour of rogue landlords had been “completely unacceptable”, citing cases of broken toilets, rodent infestations and suicides that they linked to unsuitable conditions.

Conservative, Labour, Scottish National Party (SNP) and Liberal Democrat MPs all voted for the Bill, demonstrating that Bill has cross-party support. As such, it passed through this critical stage without any amendments

What happens next

The Bill now moves to the report stage and third reading, often taken together in Parliament, where every MP in the House of Commons will have the chance to debate and propose any changes they want to the legislation.

The Bill will likely then be subject to another vote. If it passes, it will progress to the House of Lords. All being well, it will then finally be returned to the Commons for a final reading before receiving Royal Assent.

You can keep up with the progress of the Bill here.

This Bill has gained cross-party support from MPs of all political stripes, but it is far from successfully becoming law. We will need your support to keep the pressure up and make sure we get the Bill over the line.

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