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Council probes reason behind rapid spread of HMOs

A review into the way a council deals with HMOs has been launched in response to concerns about the concentration of this type of housing in one town.

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.

Councillor Adam Brown, deputy leader of West Northamptonshire council, says: “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.

Brown adds: "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." 

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    HMOs are occupied by a very wide range of people and good ones will be virtually invisible within the community.
    When the government changed the Housing Benefit entitlement for single people aged between 25 and 35 surely they expected an increase in the number of HMOs. Where else did they expect people to live? Even though most 25 to 35 year olds aren't on benefit it clearly implied that youngish single people should be looking at house sharing rather than self contained properties.
    Financially it makes a lot of sense for single people to live in HMOs. The Council Tax and utility bills on a one bed flat are a big chunk of money. Living in an HMO is a very good way to save enough money for a deposit to buy a house.
    From an efficient utilisation of housing stock and environmental impact HMOs are highly beneficial.

    In the right building or location HMOs shouldn't cause any problems. Councils need to ensure refuse collections are fit for purpose and sufficient bins are available. Parking is also something Councils could improve. Restricting the number of permits per house as a blanket policy is often unhelpful and causes more problems than it solves. If the HMO is within walking distance of work, shops, university, railway station, etc limited parking permits may be OK. Any HMOs in the suburbs are likely to be occupied by working tenants who each need a car.

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    No-one chooses to live in an HMO sharing facilities with strangers - it is a financial necessity for most and like any other part of the rental sector has its good & bad tenants & LLs.

    Northampton Council on the other hand - I believe has completely mismanaged its finances & is broke.


    Some people do choose to live in an HMO. Some people hate the idea of going home to an empty space, especially if they're new to the area and don't have friends or family nearby . Some choose to stay far, far longer than they originally intended. Some HMOs are proper, cohesive households. I've even had some where housemates get married to eachother.
    They may start out as strangers but often become long term friends.

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    Living in shared housing was a far better way to save to buy your own place before the introduction of HMO’s in 2006, robbing them of their savings forcing up rents to fill Local Authorities pockets, like £1500.
    Licence Application Fees for Council’s which was never needed as the Council’s had all the power they even needed regarding PRS as far back as 1992. No need to mention the huge costs of compliance bestowed on LL. So its easy to know who is the culprit of high Rents but then pretend to be their friend, divide & conquer.


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