Warnings have been issued to rogue landlords in Wolverhampton after council officers issued a £16,000 penalty to a homeowner flouting the rules.
Wolverhampton council handed a Whitmore Reans landlord the huge financial penalty for running a house in multiple occupation (HMO) without a licence.
It is the first time the council’s housing team issued a civil penalty to a landlord for failing to abide by its rules.
Deputy council leader Councillor Peter Bilson said the case should serve as a warning to landlords across Wolverhampton.
The cabinet member for city assets and housing added: “This is a stark warning to private sector landlords that they must comply with the HMO rules in the Wolverhampton.”
The council said the fine, which will be reduced to £10,600 if paid in full within 28 days, signals the start of a tougher approach to managing private sector landlords.
Powers are now in place to enforce civil penalty notices of up to £30,000 per offence, and new licensing rules for HMO will come into force on October 1.
Government officials will bring in the changes to HMO licensing in a bid to improve standards of housing across the country.
Key changes will include needing to obtain licences for some properties occupied by five or more residents, living in two or more separate households and sharing amenities.
It will apply to single and two-storey properties, as well as purpose-built, self-contained flats in a block of no more than two self-contained flats.
Councillor Bilson added: “Through our Rent with Confidence framework we continue to work closely with private landlords across the city.
“It is important they are fully aware of the new government regulations that come into effect from October 1 and that we will be doing everything in our power to enforce them.
“Rent with Confidence supports responsible private housing businesses in the city and aims to improve the quality and choice of housing for private sector occupiers.
“We are here to advise landlords on the new changes and we will continue to work with landlords, agents, owners and service users by providing a range of information and guidance through the Rent with Confidence scheme.
“Providing further protection of health, safety and welfare rights for tenants in the city is vital.”
Last year, the council announced it would be extending enforcement powers handed to its officers so they could dish out fines of up to £30,000 to landlords breaking housing laws.
But the council may reduce the charge if rogue landlords agree to work to address issues.
They will need to agree to be registered with the Rent with Confidence scheme – a five-star rating system – and achieve at least a three star rating.