Housing enforcement guidance
Rent repayment orders
A rent repayment order is made by the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) and requires a landlord (person entitled to keep the rent) to repay a specified amount of rent. An application to the tribunal can be made by a tenant where they paid the rent themselves or a local housing authority if the rent was paid through Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit.
Applying for a rent repayment order
The Housing Act 2004 allows rent repayment orders to be applied for following licensing offences and chapter 4, part 2 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 allows them to be applied for in the following situations:
- failure to comply with an Improvement Notice under section 30 of the Housing Act 2004
- failure to comply with a Prohibition Order under section 32 of the Hosing Act 2004
- breach of a banning order made under section 21 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016
- using violence to secure entry to a property under section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977
- illegal eviction or harassment of the occupiers of a property under section 1 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
The landlord does not have to have been found guilty of the offence but there must be evidence to satisfy the tribunal beyond reasonable doubt that the offence has been committed. This is similar to applying civil penalties and officers should refer to the Council’s Enforcement Policy and complete the decision to prosecute form in Appendix 4 to test that evidence passes both the evidential stage and the public interest stage and that an application can proceed.
How much rent to recover
If the application follows a conviction of the related offence a First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) will order the maximum amount of 12 months rent is repaid. In other cases the local housing authority decide how much to apply for, up to a maximum of 12 months, when deciding on the amount to claim the following can be taken into account:
- punishment of the offender – ensuring there is an economic impact of receiving rent for a non-complaint property
- deterring the offender from repeating the offence
- deterring others from committing similar offences – rent repayment orders can be publicised
- removing the financial benefit from committing the offence
- the period during which the offence was ongoing
Rent repayment orders and civil penalties or prosecutions
A local housing authority can either prosecute for an offence or impose a civil penalty and seek a rent repayment order. Following an offence to which rent repayment orders apply the first consideration will be whether there is sufficient evidence to secure a conviction. If there is a decision will be made between a civil penalty or prosecution. Following that consideration will be given to applying for a rent repayment order or advising the tenant on applying.
Rent repayment orders under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 - guidance for local housing authorities contains guidance and process information on rent repayment orders.