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Exempt housing system 'a complete mess'

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Exempt housing system 'a complete mess'


Vulnerable people have faced rape and exploitation by landlord "gangsters" in England's "complete mess" of an exempt housing system, a report says.

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The provision - a type of shared accommodation free from local licensing regulations - has been probed by MPs amid concerns over standards.

The inquiry has revealed residents living in squalor, with some reporting sexual abuse under threat of eviction.

The government said it was looking to stop rogue operators "in their tracks".

The cross-party committee of MPs, which says some providers make excessive profits by using loopholes, has urged the government to set national standards.

The model is a form of supported housing in which landlords charge rent but also, via benefits, claim for help meant to be put in place depending on the specific needs of residents.

The scheme is designed for, and accessed by, people including refugees, care leavers, people with disabilities, people who have previously been homeless, former addicts, recent prison leavers and victims of crime such as domestic abuse and modern slavery.

However, as properties are exempt from local licensing regulations, councils and police have few powers to act, leading to MPs' scrutiny of the system over claims it fails to look after some of the country's most vulnerable people.

The BBC has previously heard stories of some landlords in Birmingham claiming more than £200 in benefits a week and offering bonuses for staff who bring in new residents, despite providing little to no support.

The committee said the scale of the issues was unclear due to a lack of data. UK-wide, about 600,000 people rely on supported housing at any one time.

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