Islington landlord ordered to repay almost £40,000 in rent on an unlicensed property
A landlord has been ordered to repay almost £40,000 of rent they received in housing benefit while letting unlicensed flats in Islington.
Islington Council took action to reclaim housing benefit it paid to Landhouse Ltd relating to a house in multiple occupation (HMO) in Holloway Road.
Under the Housing Act 2004, the landlord of a licensable but unlicensed property can be ordered to repay up to 12 months rent to the local authority or the tenants, depending on how the rent was paid. Rent Repayment Orders can often exceed the value of a court fine, as happened in this case.
In August 2016, the company had previously admitted operating the licensable HMO without a licence, and was ordered to pay £14,140 in fines and costs (read here).
An inspection by the council’s Environmental Health Officers had found the property to be overcrowded and poorly managed, with evident fire hazards.
On Wednesday December 14, in a hearing at the Property Chamber, London Residential Property First Tier Tribunal, Landhouse was ordered to also pay back to the council £39,022.52 in housing benefit relating to the time the flats were rented without a licence.
Landhouse Ltd has now applied for a licence and have agreed to repay the housing benefit.
Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, said:
“More and more people rent privately in Islington, and we’re committed to helping make sure they have decent homes to live in.
“We will take action when landlords do not keep within the law, and as this case shows the costs can be very significant.
“Any landlord or tenant with concerns about property licensing can confidentially contact the council for advice and support.“
Since September 2015, Islington Council has extended HMO licensing requirements to cover all HMOs on Holloway Road and Caldedonian Road. This includes all rented properties where three or more people live in more than one household, and some converted properties. This came after evidence of poor management of many rented properties in the streets.
More information about property licensing in Islington is available at www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/islington. Landlords can also find out if their property is licensable by contacting the council’s HMO licensing team at HMOlicensing@islington.gov.uk or 0207 527 3205.