Landlords have been warned they face fines of up to £30,000 under a crackdown from Fenland District Council.
The council said a number of landlords are not complying with licensing changes for Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) brought in by the Government 12 months ago.
The new legislation means that landlords need a license for each residential property that is rented to five or more people who form more than one household.
Landlords also need a license if some or all tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities, or if at least one tenant pays rent (even if it is paid by their employer).
The council said: “Whilst many landlords are complying with the new regulations, some are not. Over the last 18 months housing officers from Fenland District Council have inspected nearly 2,000 private sector homes.
“Inspections have uncovered poor housing conditions with issues relating to fire safety, electrical safety and damp. Forty unlicensed properties were also discovered, with more expected to be identified as the inspection program continues.
“This has prompted the council to introduce tougher enforcement practices to hold rogue landlords to account.
“Now, landlords will face immediate enforcement action if their HMO is not licensed or if they are failing to keep the property in good repair. This may include the serving of an enforcement notice, resulting in a charge of £240, and/or a Civil Penalty notice, attracting fines of up to £30,000.”
To avoid enforcement action, landlords and agents are being urged to check that they understand and are meeting all their legal obligations.
Cllr Sam Hoy, council portfolio holder for housing, said: “We know that many landlords in Fenland are following housing regulations and are providing good quality accommodation for our residents. However, there are individuals that have repeatedly chosen not to engage with us and provide decent accommodation, despite being given plenty of time to understand their responsibilities.
“The council will not accept excuses for sub-standard property management and will immediately crack down on individuals who are not complying with housing regulations. It is only fair that costs are recovered from those who are breaking the rules - not the public purse and decent landlords.
“We will continue to use our powers to tackle landlords who continue to break the law in order to protect tenants from sub-standard housing conditions. The law is in place to ensure tenants can safely live in accommodation where they can stay warm and keep well.”
To apply for a HMO license or find out more about landlord responsibilities, visit: www.fenland.gov.uk/HMO.
Members of the public and compliant landlords can report landlords who they believe to be operating a HMO without a license anonymously at: https://www.fenland.gov.uk/article/13753/Report-a-HMO .