Campaign success: MPs back Bill to tackle rogue landlords
MPs have backed a landmark Bill that will stop rogue landlords exploiting people who need housing and support to leave homelessness behind. Here’s what you need to know.
On Friday 18 November, MPs backed a Bill that will regulate rogue landlords providing poor quality exempt accommodation – that’s a form of shared housing for people with support needs.
If it becomes law, the Bill will stop these rogue landlords from profiteering off the back of people at risk of homelessness and leaving them to live in sub-standard housing without the support that they were promised.
This is a big campaign success, and follows months of pressure from Crisis supporters who have backed our Regulate the Rogues campaign in support of the Bill, which has been led in Parliament by Bob Blackman MP.
The Bill still has to clear several parliamentary hurdles before it becomes law, but this vote brings us one step closer to kicking out these rogue landlords for good.
Progress doesn't just happen
Thanks to people like you contacting your MP, many MPs attended the debate to speak in favour of the Bill.
Bob Blackman MP praised Crisis members Wayne and Ian who "both displayed bravery and raw honesty describing their experiences of living in supported housing.”
MPs shared stories of residents that have felt trapped in dangerous situations by rogue landlords with no way out, apart from returning to homelessness.
If this Bill becomes law, no one should have to face this again.
More than 8,000 of you signed our open letter or contacted your MP to ask them to attend the debate. This shows us what we can achieve if we come together to stand up for what’s right. This success belongs to you.
Crisis members Ian and Wayne together with Bob Blackman MP outside the Houses of Parliament.
A 'wild west system'
Exempt accommodation is shared housing for people with support needs. This could mean they live with a serious mental health condition, have been homeless or are fleeing domestic abuse.
It’s exempt from the usual caps on housing benefit, meaning landlords can charge higher rents – in return for offering support.
Landlords are meant to help residents live independently and eventually move on to a home of their own. There are many good providers that do just that, including many of our campaign partners.
However, a lack of regulation has meant an increasing number of rogue landlords have entered the market and exploited the system for profit, while leaving people in unsafe, dangerous shared housing with little to no support.
As our CEO, Matt Downie, said in a Panorama documentary earlier this year, “it's a wild west system where the winners are the people creaming off quite often very large profits.”
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 mold and rodents. No one should have to face this.
A lasting and transformative impact
By giving powers to councils to license landlords and enforce good standards, this Bill aims to make a lasting impact on the lives of many people living in this type of housing.
It also lays the groundwork for future action to be taken if rogue landlords try other ways of exploiting the system.
The Bill won’t change things overnight. But this is a significant moment towards our goal of making sure everyone has a safe home that meets their needs.
What’s next for the Bill?
MPs may have helped the Bill to make it through its first big hurdle, but there is still a long way to go.
Although the Government has indicated that it is minded to support the Bill, there’s still a possibility it could fall at a future stage if it does not have enough backing from MPs. That means we must continue to make the case for this important change to the law.
There is so much going on in the world right now that sometimes it’s hard to stay positive. But we are optimistic that this Bill can succeed, because when Crisis campaigners take action, we know we can achieve huge changes that make a real impact on people’s lives.
Together, we really can improve the lives of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness and every time we do, we come one step closer to our aim of ending all forms of homelessness for good.