Landlords have been given a final chance to avoid ending up in court after failing to sign up to a new licensing scheme.
Peterborough City Council’s selective licensing policy began in December, but the number of applications is 500 fewer than expected.
Now the council has vowed to take strong action against any landlord who has not signed up to its scheme.
A council report on selective licensing states: “Robust enforcement action will be taken with a low tolerance approach being adopted which will result in landlords who fail to licence being swiftly brought before the magistrates.”
A council spokesman said landlords are unlikely to be prosecuted until the spring, but that they will be required to improve substandard properties before then.
He added: “We are aware of properties being rented without an application and these landlords have been informed of the need to immediately apply for a licence at the increased cost of £900.
“In addition, cases are currently being built to take enforcement action against these landlords as necessary.”
The council report states that more than 900 gas safety certificates were issued in the month before the selective licensing deadline, suggesting that many properties were without one despite it being a legal requirement.
Selective licensing covers nine wards - Central, North, East, Park, Fletton, Bretton North, Stanground Central, Walton and Orton Longueville - and around 37 per cent of the city’s private rented stock.
The scheme was approved despite opposition from landlords who felt they were being unfairly penalised. They claim rogue landlords will not bother to apply for a license.
The council was expecting 6,500 applications for licenses but has instead received 5,947. So far 135 have been rejected.
Licenses were £50 for landlords accredited with a nationally recognised organisation and £600 for unaccredited landlords. But landlords who are now applying for a license after the deadline will be charged £900.