Birmingham MP launches group to tackle accommodation problem

“Hundreds of vulnerable residents falling through exempt accommodation loophole in Birmingham.”

Preet Kaur Gill, the Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston, has today announced the formation of an Exempt Accommodation Working Group to tackle the dramatic rise in the number of poorly-managed exempt accommodation properties in the city. The new group, comprised of local residents, will also lobby government to allow local Councils to have more powers over these properties and the landlords who are “running rogue” in the city and not providing adequate support for hundreds of vulnerable residents.

The city has seen a dramatic growth in exempt accommodation properties in the last year alone, with the number rising sharply by 5,000 since 2019 to 19,000 properties today. Preet, like many MPs in the city, regularly receives complaints from constituents who are witness to, or the victims of, anti-social behaviour caused by the high concentration of these properties in a small area.

Preet has been working closely with her constituents and Birmingham City Council to raise the concerns of vulnerable individuals housed in exempt accommodation and the problems this causes for local residents. Just last week, Preet hosted an online housing conference with Cllr Sharon Thompson and Birmingham City Council, which gave the more than fifty constituents on the call an opportunity to hear about the current state of the private rented sector in their area and raise their concerns directly with the Council’s housing team.

The working group announcement follows a ward walkabout which Preet hosted with North Edgbaston residents, the local police team and Birmingham City Council earlier this month, to see the problems first-hand.

Preet Kaur Gill MP said: “Residents are rightly frustrated with the lack of oversight and control the Council has over landlords providing supported exempt accommodation, the sharp increase in this type of accommodation in a concentrated area and the rise in anti-social behaviour this has brought with it.

“Landlords are running rogue in our city and despite wanting to intervene, Birmingham City Council cannot act because the UK government holds the relevant powers.

“Although there are clearly additional costs involved in providing support to vulnerable tenants, there is currently no legislative link between how much a landlord can claim and the support they provide – creating a loophole that many landlords are all too willing to exploit.

“That’s why I am pleased to announce that I am setting up an Exempt Accommodation Working Group for Birmingham Edgbaston residents, giving them a platform to provide local intelligence to the Council and an opportunity to be part of the solution in improving conditions for the vulnerable residents in exempt accommodation and the surrounding community.”

Simon, a North Edgbaston resident, commented: “The problems caused by such a high density of properties rented out is compounded massively by the number of privately run Hostels in the area. We have calculated that there are at least twenty within the narrow area around Hagley Road. This increasing overconcentration of Hostels, HMOs and Privately Rented properties makes an already difficult situation for local residents intolerable.

“Most of the hotels in the area, and there are many along this stretch of Hagley Road, are no longer operating as hotels. They are hostels or temporary accommodation by any other name. Local residents accept that vulnerable people requiring support need homes but not in such excessive levels in such a small geographical area.”