“Rent Repayment Orders” (RRO), perhaps the easiest and most powerful way for tenants to seek financial compensation – to the tune of 12 month’s worth of rent – from disobedient landlords!
Since the April 6th 2017, the Housing and Planning Act 2016 has provided tenants in England (not Wales) the power to take their landlord to tribunal if they are guilty of any of the following offences:
- Used violence to secure entry to the property
- Unlawful eviction or harassment of the occupier
- Failure to comply with enforcement action:
- Improvement notice
- Prohibition notice
- Civil penalty notice
- Breach of a banning order
- Failure to license a property (if it requires a license) e.g. HMO license, Selective Licensing Scheme
If you’re not a tenant in England or if your landlord didn’t breach any of the listed offences, you can still press forward via the small claims court process if you believe you have a legitimate case to file against your landlord. Fortunately, I cover that option in more depth over in my blog post about how to sue your landlord.
What is a Rent Repayment Order (RRO) & how do they work??
Simply, if you’re a tenant and you can prove that your landlord is guilty of one of the listed offences in the previous 12 months, you can initiate the process of seeking a “rent repayment order”
If successful, you could get up to 12 months worth of rent back.
What tenants need to make a successful Rent Repayment Order (RRO) claim
- A criminal standard of proof is required. This means you must provide sufficient proof, which is beyond reasonable doubt that the landlord has committed an offence. Some breaches will be easier to prove than others, because some leave behind a natural paper trail (e.g. it’s easy to prove that a landlord is managing an unlicensed property).
- Claims cannot be back-dated, so the offence must have been committed on or after April 6th 2017.
- You must have lived in the property in question within the previous 12 months.
- You must have occupied the property at the time of the offence.
- If you receive housing benefit or universal credit which covers your entire rent, then you will not be able to make an application for an Rent Repayment Order. In this case, the local authority can make a claim if they choose to. If you receive housing benefit or universal credit which doesn’t cover the entire rent, and therefore you are responsible for covering the short-fall, then you will be able to make a claim based on your own personal contribution.
How tenants can make a Rent Repayment Orders (RRO) claim
It’s dead easy and quick, and relatively cheap. There is a £100 application free and a further £200 if there has to be a hearing (which often there doesn’t).
- To make an application for a rent repayment order, a tenant only needs to submit a claim to the First-tier Tribunal, which sets out the reasons for the claim and the dates to which it relates.
- You can start your application from the GOV website here.
What happens at the hearing (First-tier Tribunal)
If you are required to attend a hearing your case will be heard by two or three panel members. They may ask you and your landlord questions throughout the case and take notes.
While it’s generally a very formal affair, everyone does have the right to be represented by a solicitor or barrister or by another appointed person. Most people represent themselves though, including landlords.
All tenants who are making the claim need to be present unless they have appointed a person to represent them.
First-tier Tribunal (FTT) Vs Court
To clarify, rent repayment orders are managed by the “First-tier Tribunal” (FTT), not a court, which makes the whole process much easier and faster, and not to mention, much more formal.
If you are successful with your RRO claim
If the First-tier Tribunal grants you the rent repayment order, congratulations, the landlord will be asked to pay the awarded amount and a payment date will be set. The First-tier Tribunal may agree to the landlord paying the money in instalments.
If the landlord is reluctant to pay and doesn’t pay the awarded amount by the agreed date, tenants can apply to the County Court for permission to reclaim the money as a civil debt.
How much Rent Repayment Order compensation are you entitled to?
It will ultimately be down to the panel members of the tribunal to decide, but the maximum any tenant can be compensated for is 12 months worth of rent.
If you have been evicted illegally or been harassed by your landlord, the 12 month period prior to the offence will be taken into account (12 months must end with the
date of the offence).
For all of the other offences the tenant is limited to a maximum of 12 months during which the offence was being committed.
Disclaimer: I'm just a landlord blogger; I'm 100% not qualified to give legal or financial advice. I'm a doofus. Any information I share is my unqualified opinion, and should never be construed as professional legal or financial advice. You should definitely get advice from a qualified professional for any legal or financial matters. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.