The private rented sector in Northampton has doubled in size over the past decade 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.
Responsible landlords would be offered ‘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 an HMO on time would have 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 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 neighbours.
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.
“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.”
Cabinet will discuss the proposals when it meets on Wednesday 10 February at 6pm.