Council launches review into HMOs in Northampton following growing concerns among residents

‘Our communities have been badly impacted by HMOs. We have seen huge increases in fly tipping, littering, illegal parking, noise and criminal activity’

By Logan MacLeod
Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 1:55 pm

A review into the way the council deals with houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) has been launched in response to concerns about the concentration of this type of housing in Northampton.

HMOs are occupied by people who do not form a single household, who share facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms, and reside at the property as their main residence. Commonly, this including bedsits and shared houses.

There are currently about 1,300 hundred registered HMOs in Northampton, which campaigners claim have a detrimental effect on the local community. Issues raised include general poor maintenance, rubbish being a fire hazard - and streets crammed with parked cars.

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Protesters outside The Guildhall in April just before a full council meeting

Cllr Adam Brown, deputy leader of West Northamptonshire Council, said: “The aim of the council’s HMOs review is to thoroughly investigate the issues concerning housing of this nature within West Northamptonshire.

"It will include a robust analysis of current policies concerning HMOs in Northampton, alongside looking at ways we can use best practice from elsewhere in the country.

"As part of the review we will also be gathering comprehensive evidence and information from a range of stakeholders, including landlords; tenants; estate and letting agents; residents and residents associations; university and colleges; businesses; students; and key workers.

"Once all this information has been gathered, a draft report will be prepared, with a further opportunity for stakeholders to then give their views. Recommendations will then be made to the planning policy committee and we are expecting a conclusion in the autumn."

The review was originally announced last year and should have been completed in April of this year.

Cllr Adam Brown added: "We wanted to get the review started as quickly as possible, but we're also aware of the fact that it needs to be done as thoroughly and as well as it can possibly be done in order to deliver the results that will have the faith of the public.

"There's never any point in rushing through an inadequate process and leaving people unsatisfied with the results at the end of it all."

Protesters demonstrated outside The Guildhall before a WNC meeting back in April demanding action be taken.

The protesters said that an “oversupply of HMOs is destabilising communities, forcing families out and contributing to residents feeling unsafe in their own neighbourhoods”.

Councillor Danielle Stone, co-chair (Labour, Castle ward), said: “Our communities have been badly impacted by HMOs. We have seen huge increases in fly tipping, littering, illegal parking, noise and criminal activity.

“The character of some neighbourhoods has been completely changed, causing the flight of some families, who want their children to grow up in happy, safe and secure surroundings.

“Landlords try to get rich quick by exploiting the vulnerability of people unable to get on the housing ladder. It is shameful and it must be stopped. No adults should be forced to share bathroom and kitchens with strangers.

“We need a decent housing policy. We need to build more homes for families. We need a HMO policy that protects the character of our neighbourhoods.

“We need to make our communities clean, safe and green.”

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