Rent Repayment Orders
First introduced in 2004, rent repayment orders (RRO) were an additional measure used to penalise landlords for HMO licensing offences. This was only available in very limited circumstances though. Tenants, for example, could only take action once the landlord had been convicted of the criminal offence of operating an HMO without a licence, or that the relevant local authority had secured a rent repayment order for Housing Benefit payments.
In practice, this limited the potential number of rent repayment orders as the tenants had to rely on the local authority to take action before they could seek compensation, and were also limited to a maximum of the previous 12 month's rent prior to making the order, preventing tenants who had moved out prior to conviction from applying.
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 has significantly increased the scope for rent repayment orders, and these changes will form the bulk of this guide.
What are rent repayment orders?
Rent repayment orders are a means by which a tenant or local authority can seek to have up to 12 months of rent, Housing Benefit, or Universal Credit repaid. Usually this in addition to other fines. This method is available to the local authority or tenants, where they can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the landlord is guilty of one of the qualifying offences. It is limited to money paid by the body or person making the application.
Who can issue a rent repayment order?
The Residential Property Tribunal deals with applications for rent repayment orders.