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Robert Ivor Grovell becomes first landlord prosecuted for failing to comply with Rent Smart Wales

A Newport landlord has become the first to be prosecuted for failing to comply with the Welsh government’s Rent Smart Wales licensing scheme.

Robert Ivor Grovell, of Tram Lane, Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, was fined £4,400 for operating a dangerous, unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO) and failing to comply with Rent Smart Wales.

The scheme was established in an effort to improve standards in the private rented sector. It requires private landlords to register and managing landlords and agents to become licensed with the scheme. Since 23 November 2016, landlords and agents who fail to comply with Rent Smart Wales are breaking the law. 

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 City Council for housing-related offences at a property on Orchard Street in Newport to which Grovell pleaded guilty.

An inspection of the property by environmental health officials in December 2016 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 HMO but Grovell had failed to apply for the necessary licence from Newport City 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, said: “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.”

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

Councillor Ray Truman, cabinet member for licensing and regulation at Newport City Council, said: “This was a serious breach of regulations covering a house in multiple occupation where the residents were put at risk because of the landlord’s failure to comply with essential regulations aimed at keeping people safe in their home.

“This court case should also remind landlords of the need to license houses in multiple occupation. Failing to do so could end up with an unlimited fine being imposed by the court.

“Newport City Council will continue to be vigilant in ensuring landlords and agents stick to the rules covering their rental properties. Well done to officers for bringing this case to a successful conclusion.”

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