- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
I was a member of the Committee that scrutinised the Statutory Instrument,(SI) The Houses in Multiple Occupation ( Asylum Seeker Accommodation) (England) Regulations 2023. This piece of legislation has been rushed through and whilst I made an intervention to seek clarity, from the Minister, she failed to take other interventions. These are a mechanism whereby questions can be raised on the legislation and Ministers can clarify the legislation.
Under the Housing Act 2004 section 55, it is mandatory for all HMOs of a prescribed description to be licensed. This enables a Local authority to ensure that the licence holder is a fit and proper person , the management standards are satisfactory and the HMO is suitable or can be made suitable for the specified numbers of occupiers. A local housing authority can impose licensing conditions relating to the management use and occupation of the HMO and its condition and contents. However a temporary exemption is proposed which the Government has said will speed up the process of rehousing asylum seekers in HMOs rather than hotels.
HM Opposition opposed this as it would mean that vital safeguards which protect occupants of an HMO will be lost. These safeguards would ensure the landlord complies with the conditions imposed by a local housing authority and is a fit and proper person. If the Government had provided the appropriate support, it would not have been necessary to exempt the HMOs which house vulnerable people. I intervened on the Minister to ask: “The Minister will remember what happened with Grenfell Tower in her constituency. Does she think it is important to license HMOs? If she does, why are the Government taking that very important safeguard away from very vulnerable people?” The Minister did not give satisfactory reply.