Northampton Borough Council has successfully bid for £196,000 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, to set up an intelligence-led Special Operations Unit which will work with other law enforcement agencies to tackle the town’s worst criminal landlords.

The borough-wide project aims to rid Northampton’s private rented sector of criminal landlords who are profiting from substandard and unsafe housing and using the sector to support serious organised crime.

The Special Operations Unit will work closely with the Police, the Fire and Rescue Service, Trading Standards, UK Immigration Enforcement and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.

Councillor Stephen Hibbert, Cabinet member for housing and wellbeing, said: “The Council is committed to raising standards in the private rented sector and targeting the property portfolios and assets of Northampton’s most harmful landlords.

“Although Northampton has a lot of very good landlords and managing agents who provide their tenants with excellent, well managed housing, it also has a significant number of law-breaking landlords who knowingly rent out accommodation that is unlicensed, substandard or unsafe.

“We are delighted to receive this Government funding because it will enable us to target more rogue landlords. This is what good landlords want and local residents deserve.”

This work builds on the success of a large-scale operation that the Council and its partners carried out in November 2019, which targeted a landlord’s property portfolio and identified more than 100 criminal offences under the Housing Act 2004, including operating houses in multiple occupation without a licence, growing cannabis and allowing tenants to live in squalid and unsafe conditions.

At the end of this three-month initiative, the Council will host a seminar for other local authorities who want to learn more about the Special Operations Unit and what it has achieved.