Barker v Shokar (HOUSING – RENT REPAYMENT ORDER – criteria for identifying a ‘self-contained flat’ – whether building was a house in multiple occupation – adequacy of reasons) (2024) UKUT 17 (LC)
This was a landlord’s appeal of a rent repayment order made by the FTT in the sum of £3750. The appeal was on the grounds that the property did not require a licence, and that the FTT did not give sufficient reasons for its calculation of the number of occupants occupying the building as their only or main residence.
On the first ground, the property was a London townhouse with three storeys (and a separate self contained basement flat). The landlord’s evidence was that he lived in the ground floor room, and that up to four bedrooms on the first and second floor were rented out. The ground floor room was, he argued, a ‘self contained flat’ for the purposes of section 254(8) Housing Act 2004, because it had sleeping, cooking and washing facilities – the three basic amenities identified in s.254(8).
As a result, the property did not have 5 occupants sharing facilities.
The UT noted that the FTT had not given any reasoning as to why it had found that the ground floor room did not meet the s.254(8) criteria, or address the statutory criteria at all. The UT substituted its own finding that the ground floor room was a self contained flat, and set aside the RRO.
On the second ground of appeal, it was a requirement of s.254(2)(b) that occupants must have the property as their only or primary residence. While this may often be an easy inference to draw from the facts, in this case, it was not. The landlord’s evidence was that while there had been up to 4 occupants during the relevant period, some had stayed for such a short period that it did not appear it was their only or main residence. It was for the tenant applicant to prove both the number of occupants and that it was their only or primary residence. The evidence before the FTT was not clear or unchallenged.
However, the FTT had made no address to this evidence, or to explain its finding. It had ignoired a relevant consideration – the dispute over the nature of the occupation.