Private companies making millions housing homeless families in 'appalling' conditions

Many of the houses ITV News visited looked abandoned, Correspondent Dan Hewitt reports

Private companies making millions of pounds housing homeless families in "appalling" conditions are to be urgently investigated by the government, following an ITV News expose of the industry.

The investigation has discovered nearly one billion pounds of taxpayer's money has been paid by local councils to private landlords, management companies and letting agents since 2019 to provide temporary accommodation in England and Wales.

ITV News found children living in homes with broken windows, chronic mould and damp and cracked ceilings.

In Birmingham, one mother has taped black bin liners in the windows to stop a constant draught.

A tenant has placed black bin liners in the window frames to shield them from the draft. Credit: ITV News

Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, has ordered officials to urgently investigate the findings of our investigation.

The Shadow Housing Secretary Lisa Nandy said the findings showed some private providers "have councils over a barrel" and "are making a quick buck out of what is appalling human misery."

Councils have a duty to help people who have become homeless find accommodation. A chronic shortage of council properties however means more and more local authorities are increasingly turning to the private sector, and what has followed is an industry worth hundreds of millions of pounds a year.

A freedom of information request by ITV News has found 82 councils paid private firms £876,420,100 in the last three years, to provide accommodation to nearly 84,000 households. 

The true figure is likely to be much higher as some councils confirmed they did pay private companies, but would not reveal the amount they spent due to commercial sensitivity.

Kensington and Chelsea spent the most money, followed by Ealing and Waltham Forest. Birmingham was the only council outside of London in the top 10.


EALING: £91m



BEXLEY: £60m






Elliot Leigh received the most money with almost £26 million in the last years being given by local councils:

Elliot Leigh: £25,838,052.60

AJ Bush: £20,463,726

Notting Hill Genesis: £19,266,842.10

Altwood Properties LTD: £18,092,300.30

Finefair: £17,704,083.80

Central Housing Group: £14,572,457.40

Theori Housing Management Services: £12,217,997.50

Castleline: £11,235,721.80

Bishop Property Management Ltd: £10,906,612.20

Housing Enterprise Solutions: £8,754,796.33

In Birmingham, Global Property Management have received £3.7 million from the city council since 2019.

We visited a property they manage where homeless families have been placed.From the outside the building in Handsworth looks derelict.

The broken window, the battered brick, suggest little sign of life, or of the millions of pounds of taxpayer's money paid to the private company.

A tenant, who wishes to remain anonymous, says many of her requests for help have gone unanswered

Inside the block of flats, there are lives feeling as abandoned as this building looks.One tenant, who did not want to be identified, lives in a flat with her two children.

The mould and damp that crawls from every corner is making them all sick. She has placed black bin liners in the window frames to shield them from the draft.She broke down in tears as she explained what it is like living in the building, and the struggles she's faced getting anything done about the damage and disrepair.

"I have sent over complaints, I tell them I'm sick. I'm using the asthma pump, and I'm reaching nowhere," she says.

"I have complained fifty million times to Global and the council. When I call them it's like they look down on you, speak to you like they are above you.

"It is true that we're in temporary accommodation but (does that mean) we are nobody?"We contacted Global Property Management about the conditions in the building. 

In a statement, they said: "Tenant refused to move any of her belongings from any room. Homeless tenants can caused too much damage to the properties as they have nothing to loose.

"They do not pay any deposit against any damage to the property. You can not sue them for the damage as they are claiming benefits. Tenants from Hot Countries do not open their windows as they feel cold. 

"You can check on Google that you must open windows to stop the condensation building up.

"This is universal facts. Air circulations is very important and we inform the tenants they must open windows for at least 2 to 3 hours. Do not dry your clothes on the radiators. But they turned a deaf ear to our advice."

Lisa Nandy said the housing crisis has gone from 'bad to worse' under the Conservative government. Credit: PA

Labour's Lisa Nandy says the response from Global to ITV News is "racist and in the 21st century it is unconscionable that we would tolerate racism in the provision of public housing.

"Some of those private providers, the cowboys in the market who are letting out properties in appalling conditions and making huge amounts of money out of it have got councils over a barrel," she told ITV News.

"There's a shortage of properties available to councils and while there are many good providers in the market, they are being consistently undercut by people who come in to make a quick buck out of what is appalling levels of human misery."Responding to our investigation, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said the Secretary of State Michael Gove had ordered officials to urgently investigate.

From the outside many of the homes looked abandoned. Credit: ITV News

A spokesperson said: "These reports are appalling and the response from the property providers is unacceptable. We will be urgently investigating.

"Temporary accommodation is a last resort and we are committed to driving down the need for it. Over half a million households have been prevented from becoming homeless or secured accommodation since 2018 and we have given councils £366 million this year to help prevent evictions and act on their duty to ensure all families have a roof over their heads.“

"Our Social Housing Regulation Bill and Renters Reforms Bill will improve quality and ensure tougher regulation across all housing stock, including in temporary accommodation.”

Birmingham City Council said they are in the process of finding new homes for households living in properties managed by Global Property Management.

A spokesperson told ITV News: "The contract with Global Properties required all properties to be fit for letting, meeting the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) standards, if this were not the case at any time the City Council would expect Global Properties to address this, or the City Council would take measures to manage this.  

"When the Private Sector Leasing contract was re-tendered, Global Properties was not successful. Birmingham City Council is in the process of securing alternative accommodation for households who remain in Global Properties homes.”

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