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Landlords to be exempt from housing regulations for asylum seekers

Home Secretary on using cruise ships to house asylum seekers

Plans by Suella Braverman and Michael Gove to remove basic housing protections from asylum seekers are to go before MPs, it is claimed.

A report says that under new rules designed to move tens of thousands out of hotels and into the private rented sector, landlords would be exempt from regulations governing electrical safety and minimum room sizes.

MPs could vote as early as today (May 17) on the plans, which have been put forward by the Home Secretary and the Housing Secretary.

The Guardian reports that landlords of asylum seekers in England and Wales would no longer have to register with local authorities and could house asylum seekers for two years without obtaining a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence, a standard requirement for any landlord renting to more than one household in a single property.

Mary Atkinson, a campaigns and network manager at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, told the Guardian: “HMO licences exist to make sure that accommodation meets basic levels of safety and sanitation.

“However, much asylum accommodation already falls below these standards, with people seeking sanctuary housed in cramped, windowless rooms smaller than prison cells.

“Without HMO licences, already traumatised people will be at risk of living in places that are unfit for human habitation.”

The paper says that Mr Gove is pushing the rules through the Commons at the request of Ms Braverman as the Government attempts to reduce the number of people being temporarily housed in hotels.

It says he plans to bring them to a vote in the Commons with little fanfare on a day that will otherwise be dominated by the publication of his Bill to ban landlords from evicting tenants without cause.

Huge backlogs in the asylum processing system have led to more than 50,000 asylum seekers being housed in hotels.

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The cramped and unsanitary conditions in temporary accommodation have led to outbreaks of diseases such as diphtheria.

Ms Braverman is already planning to house asylum seekers on redundant cruise ships, barges and ferries in an effort to ease the crisis.

Ministers hope that removing housing regulations for private landlords will speed up the transfer of people away from hotels.

A government spokesperson said: “By temporarily removing this licensing requirement, we will be able to acquire more suitable long-term accommodation while continuing to meet our legal duty of care.”

The abolition of the rules means that landlords of asylum seekers, many of whom use large service companies such as Serco to run their properties, will no longer have to provide gas or electrical safety certificates before tenants move in.

Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, told the Guardian: “Licensing for HMOs was brought in to keep people safe.

“By doing away with these protections in order to flex minimum space standards, the Government is putting thousands of people, including children and older people, at serious risk.”

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