Houses in Multiple Occupation – Landlords Overturn Rent Repayment Order

15th March 2022 By

Landlords who rent out houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) without a required licence are exposed to the double whammy of criminal prosecution and the prospect of having to repay rent to their tenants. As an unusual Upper Tribunal (UT) ruling showed, however, there is such a thing as a reasonable excuse.

The case concerned an urban flat that was let to multiple tenants and was in a designated area where HMO licences were required. The couple who owned it had held such a licence. However, following its expiry, almost a year passed before it was renewed. After two of the tenants launched proceedings, the First-tier Tribunal ordered the couple to repay £11,012 to them. That sum represented the entirety of the rent the tenants had paid during the unlicensed period.

Ruling on the couple’s challenge to that outcome, the UT accepted that the woman had attempted to renew the licence prior to its expiry but had found the council’s web portal at first inoperative and latterly unhelpful. She ended up clicking the wrong button and mistakenly obtained a licence for another property she owned which did not in fact need to be licensed. The council nevertheless accepted her licence fee payment and it took many months to resolve the ensuing muddle.

Upholding the appeal, the UT noted that it had no reason to doubt the veracity of her account. In taking every possible step to renew the licence in time, she contacted the council when its website was inactive and was promised information that she did not receive. She believed at the time that she had paid the fee as soon as the council made it possible for her to do so.

In overturning the rent repayment order in its entirety, the UT found that the couple had a reasonable excuse for being in control of an unlicensed HMO and had thus committed no offence. It noted that, by any reckoning, such a substantial order was a harsh penalty for clicking the wrong button.

Source: Concious

Latest News

Award That Requires Borrowing Made Into Court Order

17th May, 2024 By

Disagreements between separating couples all too often result in litigation that substantially reduces the assets available to them, as was illustrated by a case that recently reached the High Court. At issue was whether awards made by arbitrators in financial remedy proceedings can be made into court orders even if that would require one of the parties to borrow money. The couple had previously had a relationship lasting a few years before resuming their relationship in 2015. They had two children before separating again in 2019. Following their separation, the...

Inheritance Disputes – Costs Risks Can Be Reduced

15th May, 2024 By

Arguments about what someone promised before their death can lead to significant legal costs. However, if faced with a claim against the estate, there may be steps the beneficiaries or executors can take to reduce the risks, as a recent High Court case illustrated. A man had left a farmhouse and agricultural land in Cornwall to his wife, with whom he had also jointly owned a neighbouring area of land. After his death, one of the couple's daughters and her husband claimed that he had told them he wanted them...

Share Rounding Error Does Not Prevent CGT Relief

13th May, 2024 By

There are often very specific rules that must be complied with in order to claim tax reliefs, but if a small mistake arises, the courts may be able to provide assistance. In a recent case, the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) found that an investor was entitled to Entrepreneurs' Relief on the disposal of his shares in a company, despite owning one share fewer than he needed to qualify for it. The investor had agreed to purchase 5 per cent of the shares in the company for £500,000. He wished to own...

Wife Entitled to Maintenance Until Sale of Family Home

10th May, 2024 By

When divorcing couples disagree on how assets should be divided, the courts will seek to arrive at a fair outcome for both parties. In deciding how the proceeds of sale of a former couple's home should be apportioned, the Family Court agreed with the wife that she should receive maintenance payments until the sale took place. The couple had married in 2006. Following a brief separation, they had reconciled for two years before finally separating in 2022. The husband and wife both contended that they should be entitled to about...