Fast facts about safety in rented properties:
- Your landlord is reponsible for ensuring your safety and good health.
- Your rented property should be free of any hazards.
- The landlord should renew the gas safety certificate every 12 months.
- All properties must be equipped with smoke detectors on every level.
- HMO properties are held to higher fire safety standards.
- HMO properties require mandatory licensing.
Your have a right to claim compensation
The Housing Act 2016 was brought into force in April 2017 (Housing Act 2016) and provides tenants with a right to claim compensation from their landlords where they have failed to uphold critical responsibilities related to the health and safety inside the property.
It’s the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the property in good working order and to remove all and any hazard which may jeopardize their tenant’s health and well being.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO), where a number of unrelated tenants live and share common facilities also have extended regulations and usually require licensing from the local authorities.
Should a landlord fail to obtain a proper license or provide rented property in serious disrepair, their tenants can claim a repayment of rent from the courts.
What is a Rent Repayment Order?
Tenants who wish to claim their rent back from a rogue landlord, they need to file their case to the First-tier (Property) Tribunal and request a Rent Repayment Order.
Pending a hearing and sufficient proof, provided by the tenant (claimant), the Tribunal can award up to 12 months of rent to be returned by the landlord.
Applications for a Rent Repayment Order are usually made on the following basis:
- An HMO property has not been correctly licensed which should have been during the term of a tenancy
- The landlord has breached a Prohibition notice an improvement order or a banning notice or improvement notice issued by the Local Authority
- A tenant is or has suffered harassment by the landlord or the landlord’s agent
- Violent entry by the landlord or agent
As with every case involving the courts, the process can be somewhat complicated and lengthy. A typical case will take between 3-4 months, but depending on the specific court, can extend beyond.
Tenants who wish to go forward with a Rent Repayment Order claim should first consult a solicitor or at least their local council’s housing department.
The Tenants' Voice in partnership with Deposit Recovery Claims
Claiming a Rent Repayment Order for lack of HMO license
Currently mandatory licensing applies nationwide to HMOs that are occupied by 5 or more people living in more than 1 household, and, the occupiers share basic amenities such as washing and cooking facilities.
A majority of HMOs remain unlicensed, however, local authorities rarely prosecute more than a couple of cases per year. This means that the majority of landlords are not being held accountable by local councils for breaching this law.
Landlords who fail to ensure obtain the correct licenses frequently ignore other obligations, such as gas inspections, smoke alarms testing, fire, and electrical safety measures.
Many will not conform to the myriad of health and safety legislation provisions that are required to ensure safe occupation for tenants.
But while the later items may be subject to interpretation and can sometimes be ignored, an HMO landlord who doesn’t have a license is in clear violation of the law and will therefore usually lose the case and be ordered to repay some rent back.
Claiming a Rent Repayment Order for harassment
Tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment of their home.
Your landlord and any appointed representative like a letting agent, managing agent or tradesmen doing repairs must always treat you with respect, protect your dignity and ensure your safety above everything else.
If you’re a victim of harassment in your rented property, then you may apply for a Rent Repayment Order, provided you can prove it.
Although harassment is subjective to each person, the items below definitely qualify:
- Insulting or aggressive behaviour
- Frequently calling or visiting in odd hours for no apparent reason
- Sabotage of your utilities, mail or other services you use at the property
- Intentional damage and lack of repairs – even when safety is at risk
- Illegal eviction
- Trespassing – entering the property without your permission or knowledge
Claiming a Rent Repayment Order for disrepair and health hazards
Typically, the local council’s Environmental Health Department is responsible for assisting tenants when they have problems with their rented property. The department can make an inspection of the property and confirm if there is disrepair, health hazards or problems with the landlord’s paperwork.
The officer will issue the landlord with an Improvement Notice, instructing them to improve the quality of the property and resolving critical problems.
Serious breaches of safety can result in a fine and even a closure of the property and a prohibition order for the landlord to rent it out in its current state.
While such actions may force the landlord to remedy some problems eventually, the process is lengthy and the local council rarely procedures landlords, even if they disobey their instructions.
At the same time, tenants will be stuck enduring the poor conditions and a deteriorated relationship with the landlord.
If you have already reported disrepair or health hazards in the property to the council, but the landlord is refusing to take action, you should consider applying for a Rent Repayment Order.
Dealing with the courts is a complicated and exhausting ordeal. Sometimes, dealing with a rogue landlord leaves you with no other options but to start a legal battle. However, that doesn’t mean you need to do it alone.
If you’re interested in applying for a rent repayment order against your landlord, consider contacting Deposit Recovery Claims.
They are a legal firm focused on helping tenants fight back and use the courts system to reclaim rightfully owed compensation from their landlords.
If you think you may have a claim for a rent repayment order, you should contact them for a completely free assessment and advice on your options. If you wish to pursue a rent repayment order, a team of lawyers will assist you in drafting the application and managing the legal processes required by the Tribunal.