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HMO licensing actually working?


Thanks to Tessa at landlordlaw for pointing me to this news snippet from Liverpool, in which the HMO licensing scheme is not only enforced, but the Local Authority aids the tenants,

Following conviction of the landlords, Raymond Whalley, and Ray Whalley Ltd, in the Liverpool Magistrates Court for operating an HMO without a licence, with a £3000 fine plus costs, the LA wrote to the tenants to inform them of their right to seek a rent repayment order in the Residential Property Tribunal. The six tenants did just that, resulting in an order for repayment of rent of £650 each, or three months rent (from the 12 months rent maximum award).

Good to see an LA taking enforcement action and aiding the tenants, but, given that the RPT found that the landlord:

Had chosen to flout the law by knowingly letting an unlicensed property thereby undermining the licensing scheme which had been put in place by parliament in the public interest

one wonders what they would have had to have done, or not done, for a 12 month rent award to have been made.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

1 Comment

  1. Francis Davey

    This case illustrates the key problem with rent repayment orders, namely that they are parasitic on action taken by the council. Full marks to the council in this case for facilitating tenant action.

    I, too, was surprised by the short repayment period. My view is that the normal order ought to be for the entirety of the unlicensed period, subject to reduction in the interests of justice for special cases, although of course the legislation does not say that.

    Potentially a very useful avenue for a tenant to pursue in some cases, though pressure might have to be applied to the council to take action.

    Of course since no-one can (hand on heart) really say what is and is not a licensable HMO in all cases because the law has been drafted by people who appear not to have visited many of the buildings I have dealt with, there’s considerable uncertainty here.


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