Rent repayment order slashed

Posted: 18th December 2012

wheelchair in front of housesA ‘foolish’ landlord who was ordered to repay more than £15,000 to tenants after renting out a house in multiple occupation without the required licence has had his bill reduced by more than two-thirds on appeal. The Upper Tribunal accepted that the rent repayment order (RRO) imposed under section 73 of the Housing Act 2004 had been excessive.

The landlord was prosecuted and fined hundreds of pounds in November 2010 after Portsmouth City Council took him before magistrates for renting out rooms in the property without a licence. The Residential Property Tribunal subsequently ordered him to repay £15,423.63 in rent to six of his tenants at the property.

In upholding the landlord’s appeal against that order, and reducing his bill to £4,771, the Upper Tribunal accepted his plea that the RRO had wrongly been extended over a full 12-month period and that he was entitled to a set-off in respect of mortgage and utilities costs. Despite his ‘obvious culpability as a professional engaged in the letting of residential property’, the tribunal ruled that the RRO should have been pitched at 75% of the profit he in fact made on renting out the property.

The landlord ‘recognised that he had been foolish’ but explained that he had for some time been in doubt as to whether the property in fact needed to be licensed for multiple occupation. He blamed ‘extreme pressure of work and a complicated home life as a single parent caring for two teenagers’ for his failure and said that he had ‘simply buried his head as far as the matter was concerned’.

He argued that he had been ‘properly punished’ by the £525 fine imposed at the magistrates court and pointed to the damage to his ‘otherwise exemplary reputation’ and to the ‘great humiliation’ he had suffered due to press coverage of the case.