A landlady in Southampton has been fined more than £700 for failing to licence a house in the city.
Anuoluwapo Olaosun pleaded guilty to not licensing Honeysuckle Cottage in Honeysuckle Road as a house of multiple occupation (HMO) after she was letting the property out to students.
She was fined £225 with a victim surcharge of £25 at Southampton Magistrates Court, as well as being ordered to pay a contribution towards the council’s costs of £445.
The city council launched its HMO scheme in the Bargate, Bevois, Portswood and Swaythling wards three years ago and has now rolled it out to Bassett, Freemantle, Millbrook and Swaythling, with a view to cracking down on rogue landlords by requiring all HMO owners to licence their properties and pay a fee to the council so inspections can be carried out.
Landlords face being fined up to £20,000 for not following strict rules, as well as being forced to pay back tenants up to three months in rent.
Over the past 15 months, the council has prosecuted 13 individuals and one company, two of whom were found guilty twice.
The fines handed out to the landlords’ totals £29,225, with £9,761 awarded to the city council in costs.
Cllr David Shields, the council's cabinet member for health and sustainable living, said: “The council is determined to improve the quality of local housing and ensure a better balance for all the city’s neighbourhoods.
“Exercising stronger control and regulation of the HMO sector is an important tool available to us in this respect.
“The overwhelming majority of Southampton landlords act responsibly and work in partnership with us to drive up standards but, sadly, on occasion we have to resort to court action to make sure that everyone plays by the same rules and receive equal treatment.
“We only resort to court action as a last measure and, in doing so, we will make sure that the council is able to recover its costs.
“Ideally the message will now be getting out to that handful of HMO landlords who think that they can avoid the regulations as set out for the benefit of all parties and we will have less need to go to the courts in future.”