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Thousands of renters could be entitled to 12 months’ refund – are you eligible?

RENTERS could get back up to 12 months worth of housing payments under little-known rules.

Landlords must follow the law, like making sure they have a licence for property with several people living there.

Getty
Renters unfairly chucked out of their homes could get money back[/caption]

And they must follow the correct rules when turfing out tenants from their homes, like giving them enough notice.

Renters could be owed a refund if the property owner doesn’t follow the rules – and it could be worth thousands of pounds in some cases

Tenants who think their landlord has broken the rules can apply for what’s known as a rent repayment order, or RRO for short.

Renters have to prove to a tribunal that the landlord has broken the rules.

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It can then order rent to be repaid to the tenants, or Housing Benefit and the housing element of Universal Credit if these help cover housing costs.

This can be as much as 12 months worth of rent, depending on the circumstances.

For example, houses of multiple occupations (HMOs) where there are several people living together in separate rooms must have a licence.

Other types of rental property may also have to be licensed under local council rules.

Landlords without a licence can be ordered to repay tenant’s rent if they don’t have a licence.

The amount you get back if successful depends on how much rent you paid.

For example, if you pay £500 a month in rent, you may be entitled to a refund worth £6,000 in total if the landlord is ordered to repay the full amount.

Or if you pay £90 a week in rent, you may be owed £4,680 in total.

How to make a claim for rent back

A rent repayment order (RRO) can force a landlord to return money for breaking rules.

A tenant or the council can apply for this through a tribunal, and a council might offer help doing this as they run the licencing scheme.

There may be fees involved but these can be claimed back if successful, says housing charity Shelter.

A property without a licence is not the only thing that can break the rules.

According to Justice for Tenants, a non-profit that helps renters make claims, it includes if:

  • The property you are renting does not have a license
  • The landlord has not complied with a council notice
  • The tenant has been harassed or evicted without the correct court paperwork

A section 21 “no fault” notice is commonly used to evict tenants who are renting a property.

The government has promised to ban these type of evictions and strengthen the rights of more than 11million Brits who rent homes.

But it still needs to pass into law and until then there are certain rules landlords have to follow when they evict you.

More ways renters could be owed cash

A rent repayment order isn’t the only way renters could be owed cash.

Claim back unfair admin costs

Estate agents and landlords are banned from charging tenants extra fees to cover administration costs, such as renewing a tenancy.

Other charges they cannot pass onto tenants include to view a property, carry out reference checks and guarantor request.

The Tenant Fees Act was introduced to stop tenants getting ripped off with the extortionate fees which could amount to hundreds of pounds on top of the cost of moving.

The ban has been in place for new rental agreements since June 2019 and for existing agreements from June 2020.

Agents risk being fined £5,000 for breaking the rules, and could be taken to court if they offend again where the penalty could be extended to up to £30,000.

Tenants who think they have been wrongly charged, can complain to their local council which has the power to fine a landlord or agent, according to Shelter.

If the landlord or agent refuses to give you the fee back, tenants can apply through the First Tier Tribunal, as long as they agree the fee was unfairly requested.

Your council will be able to advise you on how to complain through the tribunal.

Cash back for failed repairs

Your landlord is responsible for most of the repairs that need to be carried out on your home.

According to housing charity Shelter, these include, fixing issues with the electrical wiring, gas pipes and boilers, heating and hot water, sinks, baths and toilets.

Tenants are responsible for repairing their own furnishings, such as a fridge or freezer if the property is let unfurnished.

You may be entitled to compensation from your landlord if they fail to carry out repair work within a reasonable time, or if your house is unfit to live in due to poor conditions.

This may be in the form of a rent reduction or a payout. If your landlord agrees to this, Shelter advises you get it in writing.

If your landlord won’t agree, renters can take legal action to claim compensation either during the tenancy or after it ends.

Deposit refund

Tenants are now better protected and can’t be asked to put down excessive amounts of money as a deposit.

The new rules were first introduced in 2019 capping the amount that landlords and lettings agents can ask for to secure a property.

The maximum they can ask for is five weeks’ rent on properties where annual rent is less than £50,000, and six weeks’ if it’s over that.

Anyone who has renewed a tenancy since then could be owed cash.

That’s because all deposits must be capped – even if the deposit was originally put down before the rules changed.

In the first few months of the new laws the Tenancy Deposit Scheme made 2,550 repayments totalling £817,031.33.

The average amount paid back was £320 but the highest amount one tenant got was over £3,000.

There could still be tenants out there who have paid a higher deposit and are owed a refund of the difference between that and the cap of five weeks’ rent.

Landlords must refund the cash if asked. If they do not, you can contact your Council’s trading standards department or your letting agent’s redress scheme, or apply to the First Tier Tribunal.

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Landlords must always hold renters’ deposits with one of these schemes under laws designed to protect renters, and there can be stiff penalties if they don’t.

A refund on some of your deposit isn’t the only money renters could be owed.

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