Empty Property: Security

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 21st February 2019.

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Photo of Lord Ouseley Lord Ouseley Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they are giving to (1) regulating property guardianship, (2) curbing the practice of housing low-income workers in sub-standard, unsafe and unsanitary living conditions, and (3) reclassifying property guardianship under the regulatory framework applicable to houses in multiple occupation.

Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Department is reviewing guidance for current and prospective guardians, to ensure it is as clear and useful as possible.

Officials are also currently reviewing and refreshing the guidance to local authorities on their enforcement powers, including property guardianships. Under the Housing Act 2004, local authorities have a legal duty to keep the housing conditions in their area under review and identify any action that may need to be taken. Electrical safety, gas safety and fire safety requirements apply to all private rented sector properties, including guardian properties. The Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS) can be used to assess hazards in residential premises including those let to property guardians and applies to all parts of a building that are occupied as a dwelling. If a local authority identifies a serious ‘category 1’ hazard, they have a duty to take action and have the power to take action to address ‘category 2’ hazards.

Whether or not a property is a house in multiple occupation (HMO) is set out in the Housing Act 2004, and this definition can include guardian properties occupied by tenants who hold licences, provided the property being occupied meets one of the HMO tests set out in Section 254 of the Act. There are no plans to change this classification.

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