Vital housing protections for asylum seekers saved after government U-turn

Following Generation Rent campaigning, the government has dropped plans that would have left asylum seekers with fewer housing protections than other people in England and Wales.

The planned changes to the rules would have meant that landlords renting Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), which are homes with multiple people living in who are not related, would not need to license the property for at least two years. It is a requirement for all landlords to license HMOs and removing this basic protection would have left asylum seekers even more at risk of living in unsafe and overcrowded conditions, in homes rented by predatory and exploitative landlords.

This U-turn, made just hours before a high court hearing whereby eight asylum seekers represented by Duncan Lewis Solicitors were set to challenge the rule change, has come after a concerted campaign by charities, organisations, and legal professionals against the government’s plans. It also comes just weeks after the government shelved plans to house more asylum seekers on barges, similar to the Bibby Stockholm.

The government has claimed their attempts to erode the rights of migrants, especially asylum seekers, are finding solutions to the housing crisis. However, these changes do absolutely nothing to bring about a genuine solution to the crisis – they need to build more homes, build more affordable homes, and build more social homes. This is the only way that we will ensure that everyone across the UK is able to find a secure and quality home.

But what these U-turns also show is that we can fight against unfair and dehumanising attempts to make the lives of migrants, especially asylum seekers, so much worse – and we can win.

This is important, because government attempts to continue to make the lives of migrant peoples worse have not, unfortunately, ended. They recently announced their plans for ‘British homes for British workers’. This may sound like a much-needed commitment to the building of more homes, but it is instead another attempt to further restrict housing for people born abroad. We must continue in our work to hold the government to account and finally act to bring about genuine solutions to the housing crisis that will improve the lives of millions across the country.

The government must:

1. Increase the number of affordable and social homes and ensure they are built where people want to live.

2. End the hostile environment policy which works only to make the lives of migrant peoples worse while increasing poverty and homelessness.

3. Ensure that the Renters (Reform) Bill, currently passing through Parliament, works to provide the security and safety that private renters need.

You can read more about the government’s HMO licensing U-turn here.

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