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| 1 minute read

Exempt accommodation - the beginning of change?

As head of our Birmingham office, I live and work in one of England's "hotspots" for rogue providers of exempt accommodation. High-profile scandals have demonstrated how weaknesses in the current system can, and are continuing to be, exploited, ultimately to the detriment of some of the most vulnerable in our society. 

The Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act 2023 (the Act) received Royal Assent on 29 June 2023 and has the capacity to bring meaningful change to some elements of the current "Wild West" of parts of the exempt accommodation sector. The Act was originally introduced as a Private Members' Bill by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, and gained momentum on the back of support from Michael Gove.

We recently held a seminar in Birmingham aimed at providers of specialised supported housing, and a key message from attendees was that there is a lack of understanding from local authorities and the Government about how exempt accommodation works in practice, particularly with regard to lease-based models and the interaction between Housing Benefit and Rent Standard requirements. The Act aims to assist with this education piece - it will require a Supported Housing Advisory Panel to be established, to provide information and advice about and in connection with supported exempt accommodation to the Secretary of State, local housing authorities and social services authorities.

The Act also:

  • requires local authorities to review exempt provision in their areas and to publish a local "supported housing strategy";
  • gives the Secretary of State power to publish national standards relating to exempt accommodation; 
  • includes powers for the Secretary of State to make licensing regulations to be exercised by local authorities (with consequences for non-compliant providers, including removing or restricting Housing Benefit entitlement); and
  • amends s191 of the Housing Act 1996 to clarify that where someone leaves exempt accommodation due to poor conditions of care or standards of accommodation, they will not be deemed to have made themselves intentionally homeless.

The Act will come into force on 29 August 2023 and will require secondary legislation to implement many of its proposals, but could mark the beginning of change for the exempt accommodation sector. However, a key factor will be the ability, resource and willingness of local authorities (who were issued with Government guidance around interventions to improve quality in supported housing in July 2022) to implement and monitor local licensing schemes. We can only hope that this will be the beginning of much needed change to protect those currently at the mercy of rogue landlords.


banking governance and corporate, affordable housing, governance, regulatory, social housing, housing associations, local government, landlords, not for profit, registered providers, exempt accommodation