Letting a licensable HMO without a licence is an offence and can result in a fine of up to £20,000. This applies to a person having control or managing the property.
Landlords who operate a licensable HMO without a licence may also, in certain cases, have to repay rent. This applies to rent paid by tenants or by local authorities in housing benefit.
If a landlord has been convicted of operating without a licence tenants, including any former tenants living at the property whilst it was unlicensed, may apply to the Residential Property Tribunal (RPT) for a Rent Repayment Order to reclaim rent they’ve paid for a maximum of 12 months.
The RPT will asses each case and determine whether a Rent Repayment Order should be awarded and the value of any repayment.
The local council may apply for a Rent Repayment Order to reclaim money paid to the landlord in housing benefit whilst there was no licence for the property, up to a maximum of 12 months.
Tenants, including former tenants, can also apply for a Rent Repayment Order once the council has been award a Rent Repayment Order for the same property. This would be to reclaim money they have paid themselves as rent during the same period.
Letting a licensed HMO to more than the maximum number permitted is an offence which can also result in a fine of up to £20,000.
Anyone failing to comply with licence conditions placed on them commits an offence which could result in a fine of up to £5,000 per offence.
Prosecutions for these offences would take place in the Magistrates’ Court.
What About Appeals?
All appeals against decisions made by local councils regarding HMO licences are made to the Residential Property Tribunal Service.
Applications for Rent Repayment Orders are also made to the Residential Property Tribunal Service.
You can learn more about them by clicking here.