More than 500 properties in Northampton are suspected to be unlicensed house shares.
Northampton Borough Council is preparing to crackdown on unlicensed houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and will seek to prosecute “rogue landlords”.
A new report by a Northampton Borough Council scrutiny committee outlines new measures to help landlords register their HMO properties and take legal action against those who refuse.
The report states: "[Northampton Borough Council] continues to proactively seek out properties subject to licensing and the intelligence-led approach has identified more than 500 suspect properties which are being dealt with in order of a risk-based prioritisation system.
"As well as encouraging landlords and agents to license their HMOs, the team is taking enforcement action against those refusing to license their HMOs."
An HMO is a property rented out by at least three people not from the same family but share facilities like bathrooms or kitchens.
While often known as house shares, these can lead to overcrowding for families sharing houses.
They can also clog up streets as multiple residents with cars try to find parking around one property.
Student houses, in particular, are often HMOs and the Borough Council is working with the University of Northampton to establish a "Northampton standard for privately rented homes" and improve student accommodation.
Landlords must have licences to operate HMOs and must meet set standards for health and fire safety for their tenants.
An intelligence-led team with trained officers has also been established to investigate and bring enforcement against "criminal, rogue and irresponsible landlords."
Online registration and license payment systems have also been created to help HMO landlords.
Cllr Stephen Hibbert, Northampton Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Housing, 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.
“We also have a dedicated helpline for anyone concerned about a privately rented HMO near them and for landlords who might want advice – the number to call is 0300 330 7002.”