Government officials find out more about Northampton’s rogue landlords strategy
Officials from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) visited Northampton to find out more about the council’s strategy for tackling criminal, rogue and irresponsible landlords.
Two officials from the housing standards and support directorate of the DCLG met with councillors and members of staff from the housing and wellbeing department and were briefed on the council’s new policies which were approved by cabinet in February and came into force shortly afterwards.
The visitors from the DCLG found out more about Northampton’s new and innovative approach to private sector housing and the way it is seeking to improve standards, ensure more empty properties are brought back into use and that all private rented accommodation is well managed, properly maintained, safe and habitable.
The new ways of working have seen a change in housing fees and charges policy, enabling the council to encourage responsible landlords with ‘early bird’ discounts on fees and ensuring the cost of enforcement is paid for by the offender, rather than by the taxpayer and responsible landlords.
Landlords who fail to license a HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) on time are now required to pay more for their licence and, when eventually issued, the council has the power to issue a shorter licence lasting less than the standard term.
Councillor Mary Markham, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said: “The DCLG has recognised that our new strategy to tackle rogue landlords is a bold and fresh approach and that we are working hard with our partners, and responsible landlords, to raise standards and drive rogue landlords out of town.”
Councillor Markham added: “The council’s housing and wellbeing service is continuously doing all it can to improve the ways in which we work to ensure positive outcomes for those who live in the borough. Not only have we taken progressive actions to clamp down on the private housing sector, we have also recently introduced a new, innovative strategy to tackle rough sleeping with more than 30 organisations pledging to work together differently to end the need for anyone to sleep rough on Northampton’s streets.
“Just last week officers worked with partner agencies including the police and immigration services to offer advice and assistance to four foreign nationals sleeping rough in the town who do not have rights to housing in the UK to aid repatriation to their home countries voluntarily.”
More information about the new licensing policy can be found online at: www.northampton.gov.uk/hmo-licensing
A copy of the rough sleeping strategy, Together We Change Lives, can be viewed online at: http://www.northampton.gov.uk/downloads/file/9056/northampton-together-we-change-lives