LATEST: Tenants rent repayment orders ‘up ten-fold’, says legal group

Councils’ willingness to join forces, tenant awareness and the cost-of-living crisis have all contributed to a ten-fold rise in the number of Rent Repayment Orders (RRO) in the last three years.

Justice for Tenants (JFT) – which claims to represent more than half of rent repayment cases in England – reports that its caseload has increased from three per month in 2018 to 29 new cases a month in 2022. This year, it helped about 300 tenants claim £804,772 from rogue landlords compared with £75,000 three years ago.

JFT has service-level agreements with many local authorities to help tenants following an inspection, sharing intelligence to support enforcement activities, according to Al Mcclenahan, local housing authority training and outreach lead.

“Many of the tenants who contact JFT to get expert representation are referred by tenants who have previously used JFTs RRO representation service,” he tells LandlordZONE.

Financial means

He explains that a rent increase can encourage tenants to leave the property and apply for an RRO.

“The cost-of-living crisis often means that tenants feel compelled to apply for an RRO due to their limited financial means, when they may not have thought it worth their time when finances were not as tight,” adds Mcclenahan.

Three-quarters of its RRO cases are for HMO licensing breaches and 15% are for selective licensing breaches. Only 10% are for unlawful eviction or harassment.

It has a 98% success rate but believes there would be even more repayment orders made if tenants were aware of their rights.

“Across two months of sampling, not a single tenant in the unlicensed properties we visited had heard of a rent repayment order,” says Mcclenahan.

Kamma Data reports that the total number of landlord and letting agent fines in London is up 16% on last year, totalling £8.1 million to the beginning of November, with the average landlord fine now £4,343.

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