A change to licensing laws will affect private landlords from October 1 when existing legislation is extended.
Accounting for around one in five households, the private rented sector is significant in Cheshire West and Chester.
Legislation regarding Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) has been extended and from October 1, it will be a criminal offence for certain landlords if they do not have a licence to operate.
It is thought the extended legislation will now cover an additional 400 HMOs in the borough that are outside of the current licensing rules.
There are already tough controls in place for landlords to adhere to and the extension of HMO licensing will address some poorer quality housing in the borough, which often accommodates some of the area more vulnerable tenants and includes some student accommodation.
In 2006 the Government introduced mandatory licensing for certain rental properties. At that time it only covered large properties with five or more unrelated tenants sharing kitchen and bathroom facilities.
From October this year, it will include all HMOs with five or more unrelated people sharing a kitchen or bathroom. Landlords will need to meet required standards in connection with smoke alarms and fire precautions, room sizes, kitchen and bathroom facilities and arrangements for the storage of refuse.
Cllr Angela Claydon, cabinet member for housing, said: “The council`s housing standards team regularly inspects rental properties in the borough and also investigates complaints from tenants.
“As a council our aim is to improve housing conditions in the private rented sector and the new mandatory licensing of HMOs will play an integral role in helping us to achieve this aim.
“All tenants, including private tenants, deserve to live in good housing and we will do whatever it takes to ensure tenants are protected, including issuing fines and taking enforcement action where necessary.
“I therefore urge all landlords whose property falls within the new HMO licensing legislation to make sure they have a licence in place before 1 October this year.”
Landlords can now apply online for a licence via the Cheshire West and Chester Council website. More details about the new legislation and requirements can also be found on the council’s website. A landlord without a valid licence after October 1 will be subject to enforcement action.
Cllr Claydon explained: “Our aim is to ensure rogue landlords do not operate in our borough, to drive up standards and make rental accommodation safer places to live.”