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Following the introduction of the civil enforcement policy earlier this year, Birmingham City Council has issued its first civil penalty against a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) landlord in the Small Heath area of Birmingham.
Birmingham City Council’s HMO enforcement team brought the £2,000 civil penalty against the HMO landlord for failure to appropriately fit the property with fire safety measures. The property which, housed nine people, was also found to be operating without a licence.
While the new civil enforcement policy now followed by Birmingham City Council brings powers to issue fines of up to £30,000, mitigating factors can be taken into account by officers. In this instance, the immediate co-operation of the landlord with the investigation and the swift completion of the works to the property to a high standard meant that the fine was reduced.
The area covered by Birmingham City Council has around 6,000 HMO properties, all of which are required to be licensed. However, to date only 1,900 licences have been applied for.
Other offences which can result in the council issuing a civil penalty include failure to comply with an improvement notice; contravention of an overcrowding notice or failure to comply with management regulations in respect of HMO’s.
Cllr Sharon Thompson, cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods at Birmingham City Council, said: ‘While there are a great many landlords who provide excellent accommodation, inevitably there are some who will only respond and make necessary improvements on threat of financial penalties or legal action. With that in mind, I’m delighted that the recent change in policy has improved our effectiveness and ultimately enabled us to take enforcement action against landlords who are letting substandard accommodation.’
She continued: ‘HMO properties have a massive role to play in providing affordable housing to people in Birmingham, particularly as we are in the midst of a national housing crisis. However, these properties must also meet building and fire safety standards, be properly regulated, appropriately licensed and ultimately provide good quality housing for citizens who are paying a monthly rent. We’ll continue to work closely with the private-rented sector to ensure that people have a broad range of choice of where they live in Birmingham.’