The number of homes of multiple occupancy in Corby is estimated to be about 500.
Corby Council’s private housing manager Amy Plank revealed the figure to councillors at the One Corby meeting last night and asked them to back a new private sector housing enforcement policy, that will give her department more powers to deal with landlords who are not abiding by the law.
Under new HMO laws introduced in October all landlords who rent their properties to multiple occupants now need a licence or could face a fine of up to £30,000.
There are currently 40 registered HMOs in Corby, with another 356 being processed.
The officer said: “We have had a huge amount of applications over the past six months.
“Previously only three storey properties with five or more people living in them needed licences but now all HMOs regardless of number of storeys are licenced.”
The officer said she believed there are many more HMOs than licences being applied for and that the authority receives intelligence from the police and other agencies about suspected HMOs. Housing staff then carry out random spot checks.
She said: “We have 16 landlords now who are not playing ball. They are not handing in their application or not keeping property to a good standard. It is not right they charge the rent they do.”
The new policy was given full backing by councillors. It means that housing officers can now issue civil penalties to an amount of the council’s own reckoning up to £30,000. Rogue landlords and property agents can also be banned from renting out property.
The rise in HMOs has been caused by the soaring costs of private rents and the lack of available housing. Corby Council currently has 1,483 people on its housing waiting list, an increase of a quarter over the past year.
In the past five years the authority has received 739 complaints about private landlords, an average of 12 per month. In that time it shut down two properties because of health risks and secured a criminal behaviour order against a landlord who had committed multiple offences.