Rent Repayment Orders
- 1. What is a Rent Repayment Order (RRO)?
- 2. What offences allow a tenant to apply for a Rent Repayment Order?
- 3. What is a HMO license and how do I know if my landlord should have one?
- 4. I think I'm eligible to apply for a rent repayment order. What do I do?
- 5. Can ULHS do the application for me?
- 6. Has ULHS successfully helped students win back rent?
- 7. Where can I get more information?
1. What is a Rent Repayment Order (RRO)?
A rent repayment order is an order made by a tribunal judge, requiring a landlord to pay back rent to a tenant. The order can require a landlord to return up to 12 months rent.
2. What offences allow a tenant to apply for a Rent Repayment Order?
A landlord can be taken to tribunal for a rent payment order if they have done any of the following:
- - Rented out a property without applying for the correct license, such as an HMO 'house in multiple occupation' license
- - Harrassed or illegally evicted a tenant
- - Failed to comply with a council notice, such as a formal order to improve the property or a 'prohibition order' preventing them from renting the property.
In order to be successful at tribunal, there must be a criminal standard of proof that the offence has taken place. All of the rent repayment orders successfully applied for by students seeking advice from ULHS have been due to a lack of HMO license in the property.
3. What is a HMO license and how do I know if my landlord should have one?
A HMO or 'house in multiple occupation' license is required for many properties where there are unrelated people sharing a house or flat. In order to be granted a HMO license, a landlord must meet certain basic safety rules and keep the property to a reasonable standard.
The rules of which properties require a license change depending on exactly where you are in London or the UK.
- - Most properties in the UK with 5 or more unrelated sharers require a HMO license.
- - Almost all London boroughs have their own 'additional licensing' schemes that mean all proprties with 3 or more unrelated sharers require a HMO license.
- - Some boroughs such as Newham require licenses for any rented property. Others may require a license for any property within a certain part of the borough.
The best way to find out if your borough has a licensing scheme is to check the London Property Licensing website, which has up to date information on the current rules.
4. I think I'm eligible to apply for a rent repayment order. What do I do?
If you think you might be eligible to apply for an RRO, we would recommend you seek advice from us before applying.
The application form, RRO1, can be found on the government website.
There is usually a fee of around £100 for this application unless you are entitled to fee remissions. The process is designed to be simple for tenants to do themselves without a solicitor, but it is important you complete the form correctly and provide the necessary evidence. ULHS can help if you book an appointment.
Although the form offers you the option of making an application without a hearing, in all cases we've had so far a tribunal hearing has been necessary. These have been conducted virtually in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19. There is an additional fee for the hearing itself, of around £200.
5. Can ULHS do the application for me?
We can't make the application on your behalf, but we can offer advice and help so you can prepare the application yourself. We can also attend the hearing with you as a 'McKenzie friend', someone who can sit with you and offer help and advice throughout the hearing, but we cannot represent you. All our services are offered at no cost to you.
If you don't think you would want to do this, even with ULHS's help, there are organisations that may agree to prepare the application for you and represent you at the tribunal hearing in exchange for a percentage of the rent you receive back. However, any application is going to require some work on your behalf as only you will know the relevant details of your tenancy.
Other organisations that help with RROs:
6. Has ULHS successfully helped students win back rent?
Yes! Since the law changed in 2017 to allow tenants to apply for Rent Repayment Orders directly themselves without the intervention of the local council, we have been identified a number of cases where students have been entitled to make an RRO application, and assisted those students in applying.
So far all our students who applied have won rent back at their tribunal hearings, with some groups of students receiving an awards of over £15,000, £20,000 and £25,000 respectively.
7. Where can I get more information?
We highly recommend the resources available on the Flat Justice website to help you understand the process of applying for an RRO. Particularly:
- RRO Step by Step: https://www.getrentback.org/steps.html
- Flat Justice's Full RRO Guide: https://www.getrentback.org/index.html (You have to sign up to their mailing list to download it.)