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First court case and penalties emerge from Rent Smart Wales

A Newport landlord has been fined £4,400 for operating a dangerous, unlicensed house in multiple occupation and failing to comply with Rent Smart Wales.

Robert Grovell of Cwmbran is the first person in Wales to be prosecuted for failing to become licensed with Rent Smart Wales, introduced late last year.

Rent Smart Wales requires private landlords to register and managing landlords and agents to become licensed with the scheme.

Grovell was prosecuted under Section 7(5) of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 at Newport Magistrates court for his non-compliance. The offence was one of a number brought against him by Newport council for housing-related offences at a property in Newport to which Grovell pleaded guilty.

An inspection of the property by environmental health officers in December uncovered serious problems with the design and layout of the property and an escape route blocked with furniture and other items, both of which could have been fatal to tenants in the event of a fire. In addition the property was occupied as a house in multiple occupation but Grovell had failed to apply for the necessary licence from Newport council.

Rent Smart Wales checks identified that Grovell was “registered but not licensed” even though he was carrying out management activities at the property.

Since the inspection, he has completed the required Rent Smart Wales training and submitted his application for a license.

Bethan Jones, Operational Manager of Rent Smart Wales at Cardiff council - the single licensing authority for the whole of Wales - says: “This case is a real milestone for Rent Smart Wales, being the first prosecution of a non-compliant landlord.”

In total, Grovell was fined £4,400 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs and victim surcharge of £170.

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