Rent Repayment Orders (RROs) were introduced through the Housing Act 2004 (HA 2004). Previously, a Tenant could only make an application if the landlord had been prosecuted and found guilty of an offence by the local authority.
In April 2017 the law changed and it has become easier for tenants to make an application for an RRO.
Changes introduced to the Housing and Planning Act 2016 (HPA 2016) mean that tenants can now bring an action even if the Landlord has not be prosecuted.
What constitutes an RRO offence?
Range of offences now include:
1. Violent re-entry;
2. Unlawful eviction or harassment;
3. Failing to comply with an Improvement Notice served by the local authority;
4. Failing to comply with a Prohibition Order served by the local authority;
5. Where the landlord is in breach of a banning order.
6.Failure to license a property (if it requires a license) e.g. HMO license, Selective Licensing Scheme
To successfully pursue a claim you must prove that one of the offences has been committed at any time in the preceding 12 months. The changes are not retrospective and given this the commission of the offence must have been committed after 6 April 2017.
What is the process of making an application for an RRO?
This type of claim is pursued through the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). One of the key points is that if a tenant is making an application for an RRO without the landlord being found guilty of an offence in a magistrates’ court, they must prove that the landlord has committed an RRO offence. The burden of proof you will need to show will be “beyond reasonable doubt” which is the criminal standard of proof.
In order to prove your claim you may require assistance from your Local Authority collating evidence. Local Authorities have been asked to assist tenants who wish to pursue claims. You will require evidence that no application has been made for a property licence or that the landlord is in breach of an Improvement Notice.
Whats my claim worth?
The amount of rent that tenants can reclaim is capped at 12 months. You can seek to recover the rent paid in the period of 12 months before the date of the offence being committed.
If the offence is ongoing, for example, a failure to obtain a licence, then the amount to be repaid will relate to the rent paid during the offence for a period of up to 12 months prior to the tenant’s application to the tribunal.
You will not automatically be entitled to the full 12 months rent. Rather, the tribunal will consider the nature of the offence committed, whether the landlord has already been convicted or received a financial penalty and in certain cases, the Tribunal will consider the landlord’s financial position and conduct before making an award.
The landlord will also have an opportunity to make their own representations and to defend any claim if appropriate.
I receive housing benefit/universal credit –Does this
If you receive housing benefit or universal credit which covers your whole rent, then you are not entitled to make an application for an RRO. The local authority however could make a claim. If housing benefit or universal credit pays a proportion of your rent and you are responsible for a “top-up” payment then you could make an application which will be limited to your own contribution.