Action plan created to address concerns over rising numbers of HMOs in Northampton after Guildhall meeting
'Families will leave the area if there are too many HMOs as it no longer feels safe and we lose that sense of community'
Residents and councillors have come up with an action plan to address the rising number of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in Northampton.
People from across the town attended a meeting at the Guildhall to discuss the issues caused by HMOs and what can be done about them on Wednesday (September 8).
Labour councillor Bob Purser will be tabling a motion asking for a review of HMOs to be completed by April next year at the West Northamptonshire Council meeting next week.
The action plan also includes raising concerns with other councillors and MPs and reporting any suspected illegal or inappropriate activity relating to them.
Sally Pagano, from Abington, told councillor Danielle Stone: “Small terraced streets, near parks, near health services, near local shops are ideal settings to bring up children.
"We need to feel safe. We need to know who our neighbours are. Families will leave the area if there are too many HMOs as it no longer feels safe and we lose that sense of community.”
Councillor Stone and others have been raising their concerns about HMOs for months as they believe they are partly to blame for several issues around Northampton.
These include a lack of parking, fly-tipping, anti-social behaviour and undermining their sense of community, as well as links to criminal activity.
The meeting at the Guildhall invited people from across the town to talk about the issue, including councillors, residents and a landlord.
The attendees agreed the proliferation of HMOs was changing the character of the areas they were in and were worried about the quality of housing where minimum space regulations were applied.
There was also concern that shared facilities increased the risk of infection and did little to protect the privacy and dignity of the tenants.
John Bright, from the Far Cotton HMO action group, told Councillor Stone, “Our HMO action group, with support from residents, have in the past successfully taken action to protect our areas, talking to MPs, the council and to landlords.
"That is why we have an Article 4 direction in place and why the ratio of HMOs went down from 15 per cent in a 50 metre radius to 10 per cent.
"However, we have a great many unlicensed HMOs and we need more effective enforcement. A review is now needed.”
Landlord Wes Boswell advised caution because demanding improved standards, such as ensuites for every room, could push rents up and have an adverse effect on the rental market.
"The council must focus their attention on the illegal HMO's which are not meeting even the basic standards now," he told Councillor Stone.
The action plan includes a proposal to call another meeting in February next year.