A buy-to-let landlord in Newport has become the first to be prosecuted for breaching new laws demanding that all private landlords in Wales must be licensed.
Robert Ivor Grovell from Tram Lane, Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, was fined £4,400 by Newport magistrates and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs and a £170 victim surcharge, after pleading guilty to breaking the new regulations, introduced just over six months ago.
Although Grovell was registered with Rent Smart Wales, the new registration and licensing system, he was penalised for not applying for a licence.
But while this is believed to be the first prosecution under the Rent Smart Wales scheme, a Freedom of Information request made by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) shows that other enforcement action has been taken.
Newport council prosecuted the landlord, who also accepted that he was operating a dangerous HMO, following an inspection of property in Orchard Street in the city.
The council discovered that a fire escape route was blocked, and the house did not have a licence for a HMO.
Since the inspection, Grovell has completed the required Rent Smart Wales training and submitted his application for a licence.
Rent Smart Wales represents a major change for the private rental sector in the principality.
The scheme, which requires all landlords and letting agents to register their properties and undergo training to obtain a licence if they wish to self-manage their rental investment, is designed to drive up the quality of rented accommodation in Wales through training courses for landlords and by giving local councils a better understanding of where properties are situated.
Newport Council cabinet member Ray Truman said: “This was a serious breach where residents were put at risk because of the landlord's failure to comply with essential regulations aimed at keeping people safe in their home.
“Newport council will continue to be vigilant in ensuring landlords and agents stick to the rules covering their rental properties.”
Bethan Jones, operational manager of Rent Smart Wales at Cardiff Council, added: “This case is a real milestone for Rent Smart Wales, being the first prosecution of a non-compliant landlord.
“This prosecution sends a strong message to other non-compliant landlords who continue to flout the law and those who haven’t complied should come forward now to avoid action against them.”