A new report issued by a scrutiny committee at Northampton Borough Council includes planned new measures to crackdown on unlicensed houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs).
The council plans to help landlords to register all HMO properties and intends to prosecute any landlords that fail to do so.
According to the report there are an estimated 500 suspected HMOs without licences in the Northampton area, which the council intends to investigate in order of a ‘risk-based prioritisation system’.
The report goes on to say: ‘As well as encouraging landlords and agents to license their HMOs, the team is taking enforcement action against those refusing to license their HMOs.
Many student houses are HMOs and Northampton Borough Council is also working with the University of Northampton to establish a ‘Northampton standard for privately rented homes’.
The council have put in place online registration and licence payment systems to make registration easier for landlords, but also trained council officers to investigate and take action against ‘criminal, rogue and irresponsible landlords’.
Properties become HMOs if they are rented out by at least three people not from the same family but share facilities like bathrooms or kitchens.
Northampton Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Housing, Cllr Stephen Hibbert, said ‘The private rented sector in Northampton has doubled in size over the past 10 years and now stands at almost 16,000 (18 per cent) of homes in the borough.
‘We introduced policies to improve standards in private sector housing as well as help to ensure more empty properties are brought back into use and that all private rented accommodation is well managed, properly maintained, safe and habitable.
‘As part of our commitment to a safe and well-run private rented sector that protects against rogue landlords, we regularly review how our policies are working and are currently considering proposing an extension of the licensed areas to include Far Cotton.’