Following an investigation by this newspaper last year over the number of HMOs springing up in former family homes, and calls for an Article 4 direction to be implemented in Corby, NNC councillors decided to take a closer look at the impact of houses in multiple occupation on our communities.
At a meeting yesterday (Monday, February 21) members of the planning policy executive advisory panel agreed with recommendations to do further work on the six areas with the most HMOs; Kingswood & Hazel Leys in Corby; Corby West; Clover Hill and Northall in Kettering; Finedon ward; and Croyland & Swanspool in Wellingborough.
Officers have now been asked to provide further details on the types of homes given over to HMOs, the impact they have on neighbours and the type of problems they cause.
They will then report back to the committee on the best ways of tackling the issues.
They will consider Article 4 directions - which mean that all HMO applications, however small, must go to committee - as well as a range of other measures.
During the first part of their research, officers have already provided some crucial information to councillors that was previously not available. They found that there are 1,114 HMOs across our area, with 18 per cent of them in Kingswood & Hazel Leys, Corby's most deprived area, with 12 per cent in Finedon ward which also takes in the area around Wellingborough railway station.
At the meeting, which was held via Zoom, members were told that the government 'doesn't like' blanket Article 4 directions but reiterated that the council has a responsibility to its residents to ensure good management of HMOs in their wards.
Cllr Steven North said: "Most HMOs are well-maintained but others are not."
Committee chairman Cllr David Brackenbury said that HMOs would always be needed. He said: "We're not in a position to build our way out of this situation in a time-scale that would put an end to it.
"But they do need to be managed so that people living in HMOs have a good quality of life and so do those in the surrounding area."
Report author Bernice Taylor said that Article 4 directions were often not the best way of forcing improvements in the way HMOs are managed.
She said: "The report does show that Article 4 requirements are quite strict. You'd have to be showing the well-being of an area was being affected. We'd like to include any possible appropriate measures as an outcome to the investigation."
Cllr Valerie Anslow said she would like to see a public scheme similar to Score on the Doors to ensure that landlords kept properties up to good standards.
The committee agreed to instruct officers to develop detailed area profiles during the second stage of their investigation in the areas of Clover Hill , Corby West, Croyland & Swanspool , Finedon, Kingswood and Northall and report back to a future meeting.