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Last-minute government U-turn on HMO regulation changes

The government has done a U-turn on its original policy to relax HMO regulations on private rental properties used by asylum seekers.

The policy had previously been defended by the government which argued that by relaxing the regulations, there would be more accommodation for asylum seekers.

The rule change would have allowed agents and landlords to house asylum seekers for two years without obtaining an HMO licence, a standard requirement for any HMO housing non-asylum seekers. 


However, The Guardian reports that eight asylum seekers challenged the draft regulations and hours before a High Court hearing yesterday the government withdrew the policy. 

It will now revert to the previous position that everyone living in an HMO has the same rights to protection.

The Guardian reports that the plans were originally proposed by former Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Housing Secretary Michael Gove - although it now appears that Gove expressed opposition to the plans in a letter he sent to the then-Prime Minister in November 2022.

A government spokesperson last evening told the media: “Our success maximising the use of existing sites and delivering alternative accommodation means it is no longer necessary to pursue the removal of licensing requirements for houses in multiple occupation.

“We are making significant progress moving asylum seekers out of hotels, which cost UK taxpayers £8.2m a day. We have already returned the first 50 to their communities and we will exit more in the coming months.

“We continue to keep all policies under review as we work with local authorities to identify alternative accommodation options which are more suitable for local communities.”


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