Hit with a 9 month Rent Repayment Order from my Tenants?

by Readers Question

9:42 AM, 15th April 2020
About 7 months ago

Hit with a 9 month Rent Repayment Order from my Tenants?

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Hit with a 9 month Rent Repayment Order from my Tenants?

Hello, my tenants have served a Rent Repayment Order on me for 9 months of rent which is a lot of money. Under the grounds that I did not have a selective licence on my property. It is not a HMO, its a 2 bed terraced house.

They found out I did not have a license and informed me. I was not aware that my property was a property selected for this license and checked on line I then paid it immediately. They wanted to leave the 1 year fixed tenancy early and mentioned that they would not mention to the council this issue, but I told them that I had paid it immediately.

I didn’t want unhappy tenants and I agreed to end the tenancy early. I was unaware that after our agreement to end the tenancy they were in talks about me not having a license and how the council are going to fine me. I paid all backdated funds for the license and the council were happy to not take any further, but my tenants wouldn’t let it go and they found out that they could get a rent repayment on all their stay at my home. Can someone please help and advise as we are looking at a lot of money and it is causing problems home.

Thanks in advance of any help given
Regards Maz


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Comments

Colin Massey

10:33 AM, 15th April 2020
About 7 months ago

In a different scenario I know that people threatening someone like this was viewed as 'demanding money with menaces' which is tantamount to blackmail. The council know your position as you have given full disclosure. You may wish to tell the tenants that if they persist with this behaviour you will report their threats to the police. In any case you would be well advised to seek specialist legal advice from a reputable and experienced solicitor. A letter from such a qualified person may help sort things.

Syscouk

10:51 AM, 15th April 2020
About 7 months ago

Hi Maz,

RRO of the type you have described needs council backing. You mentioned that they were happy with the selective license. I highly doubt the tenants will be able to bring a valid claim forward. You may wish to know that local authorities can vary selective license to additional license (also known as minor HMO). If it is a major HMO license or mandatory one with 5 or more people then you will have issues.

Hope this helps
Shah

Phil

10:58 AM, 15th April 2020
About 7 months ago

Des Taylor at Landlord Licensing and Defence is specialist in negotiating with councils and can help email him help@LLDL.co.uk or call 0208 088 0788

Chris @ Possession Friend

11:22 AM, 15th April 2020
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Phil at 15/04/2020 - 10:58
We have handled Rent Repayment Order claims for Landlords,
Unless the tenant is on benefits, - its nothing to do with the Council. ( I'm afraid Colin's suggestion is a non-starter )

Simon Williams

11:23 AM, 15th April 2020
About 7 months ago

I wouldn't burn up more cash with solicitors just yet. It is true that the tenant can seek a RRO if rent has been obtained while a property was unlicensed. It is also true that a local authority can choose to assist a tenant in seeking a RRO. But a RRO can only be issued by the Property Tribunal, so the tenant will need to make an application and pay the application fees and argue the case and that could take a very long time in the current circumstances. The tenant may get help from a local authority to pursue the case, but then again they may not (or not very much) because the LA may decide it's not a case that they are willing to devote resources to.
So, whether you "throw the towel in" should partly depend on whether the LA will actively help your tenants. If not, they may just give up.

If the matter does eventually reach the Tribunal, it seems some sort of RRO will be likely if the plain facts are that you were unlicensed and took rent. But the maximum RRO is 12 months and if this is a case of someone getting licensed as soon as they realised their mistake, the Tribunal MAY award a much lower sum than 9 months rent.

The things the Tribunal should take into account in deciding the amount of the RRO include the conduct of the landlord and the landlord's financial circumstances. There would likely be a difference in approach, if you have a small property which should have been selectively licensed rather than say a landlord of a large HMO who was a knowing and notable serial offender running a slum property - a "rogue" landlord.

So, one big advantage you have on your side here is time. You could decide to offer them say 2 months arrears in full and final settlement and if they don't take it, then sod them. Let them go to the Tribunal and spend the best part of a year or something waiting for a judgement and maybe getting no more than you offered.

Or, if you are feeling really bold, offer them nothing and leave them to take it to Tribunal and pay your dues if and when the court orders you to do so many months hence. By then, you will have had a chance to save up!

Note: this is purely opinion and is given without liability

BB

11:27 AM, 15th April 2020
About 7 months ago

Ignorance to the law is no defence. Very hard to say you "didn't know anything about it" - when or I ll assume you are a forum member or avid reader on 118.
I d try negotiating a deal with them for a grand, or tell them to g.t.f - but if they do and the local council are looney lefties like Bristol, this won't end favourably for you if it goes to Court.
It's a dreaded scenario all "iffy" landlords take with neglecting things like this and not registering deposits etc. big gamble. Crap odds.

Simon Williams

11:31 AM, 15th April 2020
About 7 months ago

On a note of clarification:

Section 49 Housing and Planning Act 2016 states:

Helping tenants apply for rent repayment orders
(1)A local housing authority in England may help a tenant to apply for a rent repayment order.
(2)A local housing authority may, for example, help the tenant to apply by conducting proceedings or by giving advice to the tenant.

Ross Tulloch

13:17 PM, 15th April 2020
About 7 months ago

In my opinion, Simon Williams gives a good reply. His final two paragraphs are particularly good. if I was feeling bold I would go with the last paragraph, after, if possible, a face to face talk with those sad tenants

BB

13:28 PM, 15th April 2020
About 7 months ago

Snip it in the bud, get it resolved at the earliest point - hence cheapest option. That's my experience in all matters regarding the law, when you are in the wrong. A very simple matter becomes big and troublesome when your dealing with a vendictuve, jealous and spurious opponent. Who looks to have a game plan already and familiar with the law.
If these "sad tenants" as you call them Ros, wish to read up on their rights, and then go to all the anti Landlord free advisory departments, CAB, Shelter etc they will be in a much stronger position.

Phil

15:40 PM, 15th April 2020
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Phil at 15/04/2020 - 10:58
Sorry should have said Councils and First Tier Tribunal

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