Major overhaul of private sector housing in Northampton

Published: Friday, 05 February 2016

Northampton Borough Council cabinet members are set to discuss proposals for a major overhaul of private sector housing in Northampton.

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.

The proposed new policies would:

  • Improve standards in private sector housing
  • Ensure more empty properties are brought back into use
  • Ensure all private rented accommodation is well managed, properly maintained, safe and habitable

The proposals would see a new approach to managing Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) with a change in housing fees and charges policy. This would enable the council to encourage responsible landlords by offering ‘early bird’ discounts on fees and ensuring that the cost of enforcement is paid for by the offender, rather than by the taxpayer and responsible landlords. Landlords who fail to license at HMO on time would be required to pay more for their licence and, when eventually issued, the council would have the power to issue a shorter licence lasting less than the standard term. Through the Empty Homes Programme the council has already seen empty buildings across the town converted into more than 30 new one and two bedroom flats for affordable rents. The proposed new enforcement policy would help the council tackle private housing that has been left empty for an unreasonable time or has become an eyesore and nuisance to neighbouring properties.

Councillor Mary Markham, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said: “Northampton is a growing town and, for the first time in decades, there are now more people living in the town’s private rented sector than are living in social housing. As such, it is incredibly important for the council to do all it can to ensure that private rented accommodation is safe and fit for purpose.

“The private sector plays a vital role in helping to meet the housing demand and there are many excellent and responsible landlords in the borough. We have been working closely with them on these proposals through the Landlord Forum as they want to see standards raised and rogue landlords driven out of town just as much as we do. We want policies that will work for everyone’s benefit and the proposals include what landlords have told us they want to see.”

Councillor Stephen Hibbert, cabinet member for housing, said: “If approved, the new fresh approach will see Northampton Borough Council in a much stronger position to be able to improve standards in private sector housing across the borough and ensure that all private rented accommodation is safe, well managed and properly maintained for the health and wellbeing of everyone living in Northampton.” Cabinet will discuss the proposals when it meets on Wednesday 10 February at 6pm.

Full details of the proposals can be found on the website.