Councillors in a university city are cracking down on student and shared house landlords.
Stoke-on-Trent is starting a selective licensing scheme from November 5 for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) - favourite lets for students sharing a house - in the Tunstall neighbourhood of the city.
The council has also notched up the first successful prosecution of a student landlord by letting rooms to 17 students without licensing the properties.
Jaspal Dadhria, 43, was fined £2,250 for offences relating to the three properties in Shelton by Stoke magistrates.
He was ordered to pay costs and cannot let the properties until he has paid £1,650 for licences. The council is also helping the students reclaim any rents paid for 12 months while the properties were operated without licenses.
Councillor Gwen Hassall, cabinet member for housing and neighbourhoods, said: “The prosecution sends out a clear message that this council will not tolerate landlords who deliberately flout housing laws.
“Multiple occupation licences are required to protect tenants, to ensure that large properties meet the necessary health and safety standards. In this case, Dadhria repeatedly failed to apply for a licence. He also, on at least two occasions, failed to attend meetings with the council about the case.”
Meanwhile, the Tunstall selective licensing trial for shared houses is in response to complaints from residents about anti-social behaviour in the area and research that shows house prices are 61% below average market values due to poor maintenance.
The council is blaming many of the problems on private landlords letting shared houses to students and other tenants.
Goldenhill and Sandyford Councillor Martin Garner said: "This will address many problems in the area and lead to a significant improvement for residents."
The announcement on Stoke-on-Trent City Council's website comes days after the executive cabinet agreed to trial selective licensing in Tunstall.
In certain properties, landlords will be forced to obtain a £500 licence from the council and will be under extra pressure to maintain their properties to a legal and safe-to-live-in standard.