Landlords who rented out illegal micro flats in West Hampstead ordered to repay £114,280 housing benefit

Monday, September 2nd, 2019 - Camden Council

As reported earlier this year, investigations by Camden Council uncovered an unlicensed house in multiple occupation in Pandora Road, West Hampstead following complaints about rubbish outside the property. The property had been badly converted into 16 flats (read here).

Camden Council housing prosecution 2019

On 4 July 2019, Grosvenor Property Investment London Ltd, Knightsbridge Properties London Ltd, Business Home Ltd and their directors were fined a total of £130,000 and ordered to pay Camden Council’s legal costs for a number of housing offences.

At that time, Camden Council reported that a large amount of housing benefit had been paid to the tenants, who then paid it to the landlord. The council said they were making Rent Repayment Order (RRO) applications to reclaim the housing benefit (universal credit) under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

The Tribunal RRO hearing took place on 19 August 2019. The landlords failed to attend the hearing and so the case was heard in their absence.

In situations where the landlord has been convicted of a relevant offence, the Tribunal acknowledged the requirement to award the maximum amount allowable unless there were exceptional circumstances. As no exceptional circumstances had been raised by the landlords, Orders were made for the full amount.

On 28 August 2019 the First-tier Tribunal made an Order of £76,893.89 against Knightsbridge Properties London Ltd and an Order of £37,386.89 against Grosvenor Property Investment London Ltd – a total of £114,280.78.

This sum is on top of the £130,000 fines imposed by the Court in July 2019 and demonstrates the huge compliance risk from renting out properties without the correct licence in place.

If the amount is not paid, the council can reclaim the debt through the county court. The money recovered can then be reinvested to support the council’s housing enforcement activity.

A free guide containing more detailed information about property licensing in the London Borough of Camden is available here.

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