Landlords who rent out HMOs in parts of the Midlands are urged to act now so they don’t get hit with legal action or hefty fines by the council.
This follows the newly introduced Additional HMO licensing scheme in four areas of Walsall.
This scheme was approved in October 2021 and came into force on September 1 this year. Landlords of relevant HMOs in these areas should have already applied for an HMO licence, at least by August 31. The council is urging landlords and property agents with HMOs in the relevant wards who have not yet applied for a licence to do so as soon as possible.
The licences lay down conditions which landlords must meet, including keeping properties in good order, undertaking regular inspections, making sure properties are not overcrowded and tackling any anti-social behaviour such as dumping of rubbish or untidy gardens. As well as providing for improved living standards for tenants the conditions are designed to ensure properties are managed more effectively.
Councillor Gaz Ali – whose title is Portfolio Holder for Customer Engagement – says: “We would urge any landlords of HMOs in these four wards who have still to apply for a licence, to do so as quickly as possible. Most landlords operate in accordance with the law but the council has a duty to combat poor practices and will use enforcement powers where necessary to ensure the safety of tenants in the private rented sector. If landlords or tenants have any doubts or concerns about the licensing of their property, please contact the council for support and advice.”
From September 1 it became a criminal offence to operate an HMO property in these four areas without a licence or fail to comply with any of the conditions of a licence.
A statement from the authority says it will “vigorously enforce against non-compliance, meaning landlords and managers could receive an unlimited fine upon prosecution, so receiving a criminal record. Or they could be issued with a civil penalty fine of up to £30,000 per offence and may be banned from running rental properties in the future.”
Last month the council approved the designation of a second HMO Additional Licensing scheme covering several other wards. This second scheme will become operational on July 1 2023.