Landlord pays £12,400 penalty after inspectors shut down unlicensed Northampton House in Multiple Occupation

Locals’ complaints lead to action over overcrowded and unsafe house
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A landlord has paid £12,400 after council inspectors shut down an overcrowded house with people living in appalling conditions in Northampton.

West Northamptonshire Council’s team visited the three-bedroomed property in Ivy Road, Abington, in March 2022 following complaints from the public.

They found four people from four separate households and identified offences relating to maintenance of means of escape from fire and maintenance of communal areas and quickly slapped an emergency prohibition order condemning the property as unsuitable for living in.

Inspectors found people living in shocking conditions in an overcrowded house in NorthamptonInspectors found people living in shocking conditions in an overcrowded house in Northampton
Inspectors found people living in shocking conditions in an overcrowded house in Northampton

The owner — who has not been named by the council — was handed a civil penalty for failing to license the property as a house in multiple occupation.

Housing cabinet member, Councillor Adam Brown, said: “It is clear the landlord had little regard for the safety of their tenants.

“Complaints from the public also make it obvious that there was a distinct lack of respect for their neighbours and the local community.

“The housing team cannot visit every property but this case demonstrates that we will take action when members of the public contact us with their concerns.”

Houses in Multiple Occupation (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.

Since 2017, local authorities have had powers to impose penalties of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution for offences under the Housing Act.

But Government guidance says they only need to add names to its rogue landlords database if they receive a banning order and gives discretion to councils to ‘name and shame’ landlords who receive more than one civil penalty.

West Northamptonshire Council currently has around 1,300 registered HMOs, 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..

A review analysing current council policies over HMOs was due for completion in April.

Cllr Brown said recently: “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.

“The review’s aim is to thoroughly investigate the issues concerning housing of this nature within West Northamptonshire.

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"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.”