A private landlord in Nottinghamshire has been ordered to pay a £17,000 penalty after renting out sub-standard accommodation.
The landlord, investigated after a complaint of alleged overcrowding, also failed to obtain a licence for their six-bedroom property in Mansfield, which the council determined was being let as a house in multiple occupation (HMO).
Mansfield District Council has the power to prosecute or impose civil penalties against private landlords in breach of housing laws.
In this instance the authority chose to pursue a civil penalty which will be used to help support its Private Sector Housing team continue to monitor and regulate private landlords.
The level of the penalties issued by the council are based on what magistrates could have imposed had the case gone to court. They are usually reduced by a third if they are uncontested.
This was the third such civil penalty issued by the council against private landlords in the past three years. The others resulted in penalties of £4,787 and £12,900.
The landlord penalised this month cannot be identified as an agreed condition of them accepting the penalty.
An inspection by officers confirmed the property was being let to six people. Houses in multiple occupation are properties let to five or more people, sharing facilities but living as at least two separate households.
Such properties, by law, must have an HMO licence issued by the local housing authority. In Mansfield an HMO licence will cost from £724, depending on the size of the property, and will last for five years.
Landlords of such properties have to abide by certain conditions to be granted a licence. Among these are ensuring the property is safe and in good order and that the licence holder is a fit and proper person.
Cllr Anne Callaghan, Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “This case shows why we need to be vigilant about the standards of housing in the private rental sector – especially in these times where the need for housing is so high.
“A strong market for rented accommodation can lead to landlords cutting corners on standards and fulfilling their legal obligations. I hope this case sends a message out to other private landlords in this district that if we find them acting unlawfully, we will not hesitate to take action against them.
“At the end of the day, the cost of obtaining an HMO licence is a good deal less than any penalty they may have to pay for trying to circumvent the law.”