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HMO landlord repays tenants £18000

publication date: Dec 14, 2007
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From the Leamington Observer - Thursday 8 November 2007:

A landlord in Leamington has been ordered to repay his tenants more than £18,000 in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in Britain.

Bajinder Bahi - known locally as Gilly - was fined more than £3,000 at Stratford Magistrates Court in June for failing to licence two flats which were both occupied by students from Warwick University.

The prosecution - thought to be the first of its kind under new housing legislation - led to tenants claiming back rent while the property remained unlicensed between September 2006 and June 2007. Both flats contained eight students, who felt that they had endured a ‘poor experience’ there, citing various problems that were only fixed after considerable delays or were not sorted at all.

The tribunal considered the conduct and financial circumstances of the landlord, and after deliberation decided to refund the equivalent of 50 per cent of the rental income. District council housing spokesman Coun Michael Doody said: “This decision should act as a warning. We are actively pursuing other landlords who are still to submit a licence application.

“Any which proceed to prosecution will give tenants the opportunity to make a similar claim to the tribunal.”

Under the Housing Act 2004, landlords of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are required to register. Warwick District Council first made contact with Mr Bahi about the issue in April 2006 but despite several reminders he failed to submit applications and was consequently prosecuted. Tenants of licensable HMO’s can apply to The Residential Property Tribunal for a Rent Repayment Order (RRO) in cases where a conviction for failing to licence has occured. Once an RRO is made, it is legally recoverable from a landlord as a civil debt.

Warwick University’s advice and welfare officer, Ken Harris, said: “Students contribute significantly to their local economies, and nationwide legislation means they are now getting the legal protection that they deserve.”