Unlicensed HIMO landlords in Northampton could face £30,000 fines, says council

The borough council says the new model is to ensure private rented accommodation is "safe, well managed and fit for purpose".
The borough council says the new model is to ensure private rented accommodation is "safe, well managed and fit for purpose".

Rogue landlords and managing agents in Northampton could face fines of up to £30,000 in the future.

Northampton Borough Council is planning to bulk up its housing enforcement team and clamp down on unsafe private rented accommodation.

Offences committed by landlords, including letting unlicensed houses in multiple occupation (HIMOs) in Northampton, could be met with fines of up £30,000.

The borough council says the new model is to ensure private rented accommodation is "safe, well managed and fit for purpose".

It will be voted on at a cabinet meeting tonight (January 17), where the council will also decide on whether to enforce a "section 4" rule, which would require landlords to get planning permission before developing family homes into HIMOs.

A HIMO is an accommodation with more than three tenants. They have been criticised by residents groups and communities for taking family homes off the market and leading to streets packed with cars and extra rubbish.

The borough council says their private sector housing enforcement team is "too small" to be able to deal with many substandard, unlicensed, badly managed privately rented home, and will vote on expanding the team.

Councillor Stephen Hibbert, council cabinet member for housing, said: “The Government has given local authorities the power to impose fines on landlords and managing agents, as an alternative to prosecution which can be more expensive and take a long time.

“Our housing enforcement team has already identified almost 500 properties which it knows or suspects are HMOs and should be licensed.

“The team is also aware of other substandard privately-rented accommodation in the borough which it doesn’t currently have enough time to tackle."

The new Government legislation also allows for an extension of rent repayment orders which can result in up to a year’s rent being returned to those who paid it. This could be the tenant if they have paid the rent, or the Council if the rent has been met through housing benefit.

If agreed at the cabinet meeting, eight new officers will be recruited, with the cost being met from the extra income generated from civil penalties.