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Rent repayment orders

This content applies to England

Orders requiring a landlord or agent who has committed a relevant offence to repay rent or housing benefit/universal credit.

Unless stated otherwise this page sets out the provisions governed by the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

Definition

A rent repayment order (RRO) requires repayment, of rent or housing benefit or housing costs element of universal credit paid in respect of a tenancy or licence, by a landlord/agent who has committed a particular offence listed in the legislation.[1] It is not necessary that the landlord/agent has actually been convicted, but, in order to grant an RRO, a tribunal must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that one of these offences has occured.[2]

An RRO can require the repayment of a sum of up to a maximum of 12 months’ rent.[3]

Relevant offences

With effect from 6 April 2017, the relevant offences are:[4]

The only offences committed before 6 April 2017 for which an RRO can be sought are the licensing offences (ie the last two bullets).[5]

Applications

An application for an RRO:[6]

  • is made to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber)
  • can be made by an occupier or a local housing authority.

The form used should be Form RRO2 where the offence was of having control of, or managing, an unlicensed HMO or other property and

  • was committed wholly before 6 April 2017, or
  • was first committed before 6 April 2017 and ended before 5 April 2018.

In all other cases, the form should be Form RRO1.[7]

There will be a fee for those wishing to apply for a Rent Repayment Order, and further fees will be payable should a hearing be necessary.[8] See costs for more information about fees.

Occupiers

An occupier can apply for an RRO to recover rent s/he has paid to the landlord/agent if the:[9]

  • offence relates to housing that s/he was occupying under a letting agreement at the time of the offence, and
  • application is made within 12 months of the landlord/agent committing the offence.

Where the offence relates to licensing and was committed wholly before 6 April 2017 or was first committed before 6 April 2017 and ended before 5 April 2018, an occupier can only apply for an RRO if the landlord has been convicted of the offence or if the local authority has already successfully applied for an RRO (see below).[10]

An occupier in this context is either a tenant or licensee of the landlord. Tenancies or licences for a term of more than 21 years are included.[11]

Local authorities are empowered to help an occupier to apply for an RRO by, for example, conducting proceedings on the occupier's behalf or by providing advice on how to do it.[12]

Local authorities

A local housing authority can apply for an RRO to recover housing benefit or housing costs element of universal credit paid (to any person) if the:[13]

  • offence relates to housing in the authority's area, and
  • authority has first served a notice of intended proceedings.

In certain cases a local authority must consider applying for a rent repayment order in relation to property situated in its area. This will apply where a landlord has been convicted of an offence which either was first committed on or after 6 April 2017 or is a licensing offence first committed before that date and continuing after 5 April 2018.[14]

A notice of intended proceedings must:[15]

  • inform the landlord/agent that the authority intends to apply for an RRO and set out the reasons
  • state the amount that the authority seeks to recover
  • invite the landlord/agent to make representations within a specified period (of not less than 28 days), and
  • relate to a period of maximum 12 months of the landlord/agent committing the offence.

The amount the authority seeks to recover cannot exceed the amount of housing benefit or universal credit paid (directly or indirectly) to the landlord/agent in the relevant period.

The authority can apply for an RRO after the expiry of the notice of intended proceedings and after it has considered any representations made.

Regulations prescribe that local authorities can use any money recovered under an RRO to meet the costs and expenses (whether administrative or legal) incurred in, or associated with, carrying out any of their enforcement functions in relation to the private rented sector.[16]

Statutory guidance

In deciding whether to apply for an RRO in connection with an offence wholly committed on or after 6 April 2017, local housing authorities must have regard to the statutory guidance on Rent repayment orders under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 issued by the Secretary of State.[17]

Making of RRO

The Tribunal must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt (ie the criminal standard of proof) that the landlord has committed the offence. It is not necessary that the landlord/agent has been convicted of the offence.[18]

Amount of RRO

The amount of an RRO must relate to rent or benefits paid in respect of a period not exceeding 12 months during which the landlord was committing the offence or, if the offence was harassment, illegal eviction or violence for securing entry into premises, 12 months ending with the date of the offence.[19]

In deciding the amount, the Tribunal must take into account:[20]

  • the conduct of the landlord
  • the financial circumstances of the landlord, and
  • whether or not the landlord has actually been convicted of a relevant offence or has received a financial penalty.

In addition, where the application is made by the occupier the Tribunal must:[21]

  • take into account the conduct of the occupier
  • deduct any housing benefit or universal credit paid in respect of rent.

The amount owed under an RRO is enforceable as if it were a debt in the county court (see Part 7 - general procedure and Online claims for details about money claims).[22]

An appeal against an RRO is made to the Upper Tribunal.[23]

Licensing offences: transitional arrangements

The provisions under the Housing Act 2004 continue to apply to rent repayment orders where the offence relating to the licensing of properties was:[24]

  • wholly committed before 6 April 2017, or
  • started before 6 April 2017 and ended no later than 5 April 2018.

Broadly similar criteria and procedures apply but there are some differences. Most of these are set out above.

Wales

The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

[1] s.40 Housing and Planning Act 2016; Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Commencement No. 5, Transitional Provisions and Savings) Regulations 2017 SI 2017/281; s.56 Housing and Planning Act 2016 provides that references to a tenancy includes a licence.

[2] s.43(1) Housing and Planning Act 2016

[3] s.44 and s.45, Housing and Planning Act 2016

[4] s.40(3) Housing and Planning Act 2016.

[5] ss.73 and 96 Housing Act 2004

[6] s.41 Housing and Planning Act 2016.

[7] reg 5 Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Commencement No. 5, Transitional Provisions and Savings) Regulations 2017 SI 2017/281.

[8] s.42(1)(a) Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. See also HM Courts and Tribunal Service, form EX50.

[9] s.41(2) Housing and Planning Act 2016; Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Commencement No.5, Transitional Provisions and Savings) Regulations 2017 SI 2017/281.

[10] reg 5 Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Commencement No.5, Transitional Provisions and Savings) Regulations 2017 SI 2017/281; s.73(8) and s.96(8) Housing Act 2004.

[11] s.56 Housing and Planning Act 2016.

[12] s.49 Housing and Planning Act 2016.

[13] s.48 Housing and Planning Act 2016, reg 5 Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Commencement No. 5, Transitional Provisions and Savings) Regulations 2017 SI 2017/281. .

[14] s.41(3) Housing and Planning Act 2016; Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Commencement No.5, Transitional Provisions and Savings) Regulations 2017 SI 2017/281.

[15] s.42 Housing and Planning Act 2016.

[16] Rent Repayment Orders and Financial Penalties (Amounts Recovered) (England) Regulations 2017 SI 2017/367.

[17] s.41(4) Housing and Planning Act 2016.

[18] s.43 Housing and Planning Act 2016.

[19] ss.44 and 45 Housing and Planning Act 2016.

[20] ss.44 to 46 Housing and Planning Act 2016.

[21] s.44 Housing and Planning Act 2016.

[22] s.47 Housing and Planning Act 2016.

[23] s.53 Housing and Planning Act 2016.

[24] reg 5 Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Commencement No. 5, Transitional Provisions and Savings) Regulations 2017 SI 2017/281; ss 72-74 and 95 Housing Act 2004; Rent Repayment Orders (Supplementary Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 SI 2007/572.

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