Law to help control unlicensed and overcrowded housing in Northampton comes into effect

The cabinet voted on the law last month.
The cabinet voted on the law last month.
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New measures to manage the number overcrowded houses in Northampton come into force today (March 6).

Property owners in Delapré and Far Cotton will now have to apply for planning permission if they wish to convert family homes into houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

It follows a new law passed by Northampton Borough Council in March to help them 'prosecute rogue landlords'.

Councillor Tim Hadland, cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, said:

“It’s excellent that our town is continuing to grow, but we want to make sure that we balance the increased demand for accommodation with the need to manage the pressures which can be placed on existing amenities.

An HMO is a property rented out by at least three people not from the same family but share facilities like bathrooms or kitchens.

In a survey published in February, more than 500 properties in Northampton were suspected to be unlicensed house shares.

The direction - Article 4(1) - was voted on due to a "growing rental sector and increasing demand for student accommodation," making the housing option popular with landlords.

This is the first stage the borough council's plan to introduce the law and immediately affects the area bound by the River Nene and Rothersthorpe Road.

The wider Far Cotton, Cliftonville and Delapre area will be affected in the next 12 months.

Councillor Hadland said: “The change does not mean that planning permission won’t be granted, and properties which have already been converted will not be affected. However, it does give us an opportunity to consider issues such as parking provision as part of the planning process.”

Speaking after the law was passed at a cabinet meeting in March, ward councillor for Delapré & Briar Hill Julie Davenport said: "I'm very happy for the homeowners of Far Cotton particularly, who have so many terraced houses that developers seem to love.

"Through this, at least we can inspect HMOs for proper fire standards, insurance and safety regulations."

The Borough Council first introduced powers to tackle the issue in 2011, with Castle, Abington and Semilong wards among those areas which are already subject to these requirements.

Anyone currently in the process of buying a house in this area with the intention of converting it into an HMO is advised to contact Northampton Borough Council’s planning department directly on 0300 330 7002.