Tougher housing enforcement powers for officers

City of Wolverhampton Council is set to get tougher on rogue private sector housing landlords after giving officers more enforcement powers.

The move is aimed at providing further protection of health, safety and welfare rights for tenants in the city.

The majority of private sector landlords in the city make a positive contribution to Wolverhampton’s housing offer, which is valued by the council.

Under the Housing and Planning Act 2016, the council’s Cabinet has now armed its housing officers with the right to issue civil penalties to rogue private sector landlords.

It means landlords found to be breaking housing laws could be handed civil penalties up to £30,000 per offence, depending on the impact of the breach and culpability of the offender.

The council will retain any funds obtained from civil penalties provided it is used to further the council’s statutory functions in relation to private rented sector housing enforcement.

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 enforcement charge subject to them agreeing to being registered under the Rent with Confidence star-rating programme, and achieving a minimum of a three-star rating.

Cabinet Member for City Assets and Housing, Councillor Peter Bilson, said:

“This move is in line with our efforts to improve the city housing offer and provide more transparency for landlords.”

“It will complement the Rent with Confidence scheme for landlords and their properties.”

“We must support responsible private housing businesses in the city and improve quality and choice for private sector housing occupiers.”

“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.”

To further support the council’s Rent with Confidence scheme, landlords who have three stars or more will receive a discount on their mandatory HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupation) licence application fee. Three-star landlords will receive a 33 per cent discount, four-star landlords 66 per cent, and five-star landlords 100 per cent.