Powers to clamp down on overcrowded houses could be extended across whole of Northampton

HMOs are most popular in large landlord-owned houses
HMOs are most popular in large landlord-owned houses

A university study has recommended that powers to curb HMOs in Northampton are rolled out across the town.

The powers would apply to applications by landlords to convert their houses so that lots of independent tenants can live there, creating a 'house in multiple occupation' (HMO).

At the moment, the powers only apply to a handful of areas of Northampton, most recently Far Cotton to address the influx of student houses near the new university campus.

But If taken up by Northampton Borough Council the 'Article 4' powers would mean new HMOs could be scrutinised by a panel of councillors, to ensure no harm is caused to the street before being granted.

Paul Everard, planning policy manager at the Guildhall, said in a report to councillors that the University of Loughborough's suggestion would stop some landlords from exploiting loopholes in the current system.

He said: "The recommendation acknowledges that the council could address any overc-oncentrations of HMOs that might occur just outside the boundaries of areas currently covered by Article 4 directions.

"Anecdotally, these spillover effects have already started to happen in parts of the town."

HMOs have been the source of sustained complaints from neighbours for years in Northampton. Common gripes include excessive noise, overflowing rubbish bins and swamped parking spaces.

Other suggestions by the academics include implementing a cap so that a maximum of 1 in 10 houses within a 50 metre radius is a HMO. That would tighten up the current rules, which allow 15 per cent.

According to the University of Loughborough, this would "regulate the possible formation of new over-concentrations of HMOs in other parts of the borough".