Increase in immigrant numbers prompts bedsit licence plan in Boston
Shared houses and bedsits in a Lincolnshire town may need to be licensed under new proposals.
The policy has been put forward as a solution to tensions that councillors say have arisen from a growing population and Eastern European immigration.
Landlords in Boston would be affected by the scheme, which aims to address issues with council tax payments, parking, litter and other issues.
Councillors are targeting problems with houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) – properties that have shared facilities and are let to at least three separate households.
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The idea is one of 28 recommendations in a major report on social issues in the area.
The City of Lincoln Council says at its last count it had 2,150 HMOs and would consider licensing policy if problems emerged. However, it stressed there were no current issues. Portfolio holder for housing, property and community at Boston Borough Council, Mike Gilbert, said: "One of the problems in Boston is that around 95 per cent of people from Eastern Europe live in the private sector.
"One thing that's been recognised is that if we do have a licensing process it gives us a greater understanding about conditions and safeguards.
"Some of the criticisms of HMOs are parking and litter.
"We are not saying we can resolve those overnight but it's the start of a process where we know who owns that house and who lives there and if there's anyone not fully paying their council tax."
The latest census statistics showed an increase in Boston's population from 55,750 in 2001 to 64,600 in 2011.
Following a four-month inquiry, a council committee drafted recommendations looking at street drinking and antisocial behaviour through to clearer rules on deportation for those not meeting their EU treaty rights to live and work in Boston.
During the course of the inquiry, the committee gathered evidence from the police, health departments, businesses, the press and other councils in Lincolnshire into the impact of migration.
Mr Gilbert added: "We hope most people will think this is a brave attempt by Boston Borough Council to get to the bottom of the tensions that we identified.
"We need to make sure that issues that affect Boston are known at a local, regional, national and European level.
"Boston has changed and if it's going to move forward, we need to make sure we are talking a bit more as one."