A major Midlands council is considering a selective licencing when its additional licencing scheme for HMOs finishes in 2025 as it seeks to answer critics who believe this type of property is damaging social cohesion in many areas.
The Cabinet committee of West Northamptonshire Council, which covers large swathes of the East Midlands, has asked its Head of Private Sector Housing Chris Stopford to gather evidence about the implementation of a selective licensing regime and make recommendations about its design and implementation.
While additional licencing only covers HMOs, selectively licencing usually covers all kinds of rented homes within an area and, in some cases, whole boroughs.
West Northamptonshire's decision has been prompted by a review of the council’s approach to HMOs by a special working group that has finished its work after a year of investigation.
The working group was established following recent public criticism of the detrimental effects of HMOs on local communities within West Northamptonshire and specifically its largest town, Northampton, and further condemnation over the increasing number of HMOs locally.
Members on the working group found that there are 1,164 licenced HMOs within the Northampton locality with three or more people from two or more households, of which 246 generated complaints from tenants about properties or landlord behaviour.
"Through the cross party Member Working Group we have had an opportunity to hear from a wide range of people and organisations to gain an understanding of the issues surrounding HMOs and the choices available to us," says Councillor Adam Brown, Deputy Leader of the council and Cabinet Member for Housing, Culture and Leisure.
"These proposals aim to further equip the Council to protect tenants, support landlords and make our neighbourhoods more pleasant for everyone."
Other recommendations within the report include more staff to clamp down on rogue landlords and unlicenced properties, tackle rubbish generated by HMOs, and improve access to the council’s register of licenced properties.
The council’s Cabinet is due to vote on the working group's recommendations next Tuesday 11th July at its Towcester HQ (main picture).
Read LandlordZONE editor's opinion piece on HMOs and 'nimbysm'.