City of Wolverhampton Council’s housing team has sent out a warning to landlords across the city after issuing its first ever civil penalty.
A landlord in the Whitmore Reans area of Wolverhampton has been hit with a £16,000 fine for running a licensable House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) without a licence.
The fine will be reduced to £10,600 if he pays it in full within 28 days.
It signals the start of a tougher approach to managing private sector landlords, with powers in place to enforce civil penalty notices of up to £30,000 per offence.
Landlords are also being reminded that the mandatory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) will change from 1st October 2018.
The key change will see the removal of the number of storeys from the licensable HMO definition criteria.
It means both two and single storey properties and purpose built, self-contained flats situated in a block comprising of no more than two self-contained flats, will now also require a licence where they are occupied by five or more persons, living in two or more separate households and sharing amenities.
National statistics show the likelihood of a fire occurring in a HMO is three times more than in a single-family dwelling.
Central government are therefore driving for improved standards and licensing of such properties, and City of Wolverhampton Council will take robust action against any landlords found to be operating licensable HMOs without a licence.
Councillor Peter Bilson, City of Wolverhampton Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for City Assets and Housing, said:
“This is a stark warning to private sector landlords that they must comply with the HMO rules in the City of Wolverhampton.
“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 1st October 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.”
The majority of private sector landlords in the city make a positive contribution to Wolverhampton’s housing offer, which is valued by the council.
Where landlords, owners and letting agents agree to work positively with the council to address issues identified in statutory notices and orders, the council will consider a reduction in the licence fee subject to them agreeing to being registered under the Rent with Confidence star-rating programme – and achieving a minimum of a three-star rating.
For further advice landlords should contact City of Wolverhampton Council’s HMO team, via email on hmoenquiries(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)wolverhampton.gov.uk.