NEW WARNING: Judge tells landlords ‘ignorance of HMO rules won’t prevent huge fines’

A judge has advised landlords not to rely on other people to keep them abreast of licensing ©1999 - Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® - NEW WARNING: Judge tells landlords ‘ignorance of HMO rules won’t prevent huge fines’ | LandlordZONE.

NEW WARNING: Judge tells landlords ‘ignorance of HMO rules won’t prevent huge fines’

A judge has advised landlords not to rely on other people to keep them abreast of licensing requirements after handing out a whopping £47,000 rent repayment order.

Landlord Karen Merricks tried to argue that she was twice given the wrong advice by Tower Hamlets Council when inquiring about HMO licencing, but a First Tier Property Tribunal threw out her argument and had also relied on her letting agent’s advice, ruling that her ignorance was no excuse.

Her seven tenants who lived at the property in Tomlins Grove (pictured), London, will now share out £47,256 after living there for two years from September 2018.

The tribunal heard that Merricks phoned the council around 2017 when someone in the planning department allegedly advised her that she did not need a licence for the property so she made no further enquiries and took no further advice.

The judge ruled: “The advice she supposedly received was clearly wrong on the first occasion and may well have been wrong too on the second occasion.

“There is a significant possibility that either the respondent gave the wrong information or misunderstood the information she was given. The respondent’s ignorance does not amount to a reasonable excuse.”

Keep abreast

It added: “Landlords and their agents would be expected to keep abreast of such matters as the licensing requirements through professional memberships, mailing lists, newspapers, specialist publications.

“The respondent said she relied on agents to keep her abreast of any obligations but such processes are clearly insufficient as she did not pick up on the licensing requirements.”

Kamma CEO Orla Shields (pictured) tells LandlordZONE that many councils are now taking the opportunity to target tenants through the incentive of RROs.

She says: “I think the real lesson for landlords here is that they have to be on top of their compliance. We work with a number of great agents who do a superb job of keeping their landlords informed, but we know that others don’t see it as a priority. Our advice is to work with only the best agents, and give serious consideration to NRLA membership.”

©1999 - Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® - NEW WARNING: Judge tells landlords ‘ignorance of HMO rules won’t prevent huge fines’ | LandlordZONE.

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LATEST: High Court intervenes dramatically in rent-to-rent sector over RROs

The High Court has intervened dramatically in the rent-to-rent sector after three judges ruled that a landlord ©1999 - Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® - LATEST: High Court intervenes dramatically in rent-to-rent sector over RROs | LandlordZONE.

LATEST: High Court intervenes dramatically in rent-to-rent sector over RROs

The High Court has intervened dramatically in the rent-to-rent sector after three judges ruled that a landlord who sublets their properties via this kind of scheme are not liable for Rent Repayment Orders (RROs).

The ruling overturns a previous decision by the Upper Tribunal in Rakusen v Jepson, which ruled that an RRO application could be made against any landlord of the relevant property for the relevant period of the relevant offence.

Leaseholder and landlord Martin Rakusen granted a tenancy of his flat in Finchley Road, London, to Kensington Property Investment Group Ltd (KPIG) in May 2016, introduced by agents Hamptons. KPIG then entered into separate written agreements with the four tenants.

In November 2018, Hamptons told Rakusen that KPIG wanted to apply for a licence but none was granted and Rakusen did not renew KPIG’s tenancy in May 2019. The tenants then applied for, and won, RROs totalling £26,140.

Significant difference

Giles Peaker (pictured) at says the judgement will make a significant difference to those seeking RROs against less than salubrious landlords.

He adds: “A crumb of comfort is that the Court of Appeal accepted the policy intent and the ‘on the ground’ situation with dodgy rent to rent/intermediate landlords may both merit the extension of RROs to superior landlords. But the Court of Appeal consider that is now a matter for parliament.”

Tim Frome (pictured), MD of , says the decision limits a tenant’s options if they have a case for a RRO against an intermediary landlord, particularly if that intermediary landlord has subsequently gone out of business.

“At the Property Redress Scheme we have a number of members who undertake rent to rent tenancies and we regularly assist both the agents and their consumers to come to resolutions on complaints,” adds Frome. “We’ve also been in regular dialogue with the government on the growing rent to rent industry and they are looking carefully at whether it needs further regulation.”

©1999 - Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® - LATEST: High Court intervenes dramatically in rent-to-rent sector over RROs | LandlordZONE.

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