A landlord family have been slapped with a £28,000 rent repayment order (RRO) and combined fines of £30,000 for a first-time offence of neglecting to licence their HMO.

Colin and Jacqueline Cain were ordered to pay £4,000 each to seven former tenants of their house in Wiggington Road (pictured), York, by a First Tier Property Tribunal after property manager Victoria Cain was fined £20,000 by York City Council and Colin Cain was fined £10,000.

But the fine could have been much worse – the couple were given a 30% discount on the RRO after admitting their ‘one-time’ mistake in not applying for a licence, that they had been badly advised, had tried to reach a settlement with the tenants and that they lacked funds to repay the penalty.

The tribunal also heard that there had been no complaints about the accommodation or management from the tenants or council, and that the Cains were the “very opposite of serial offenders” flouting the law.

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One-time offence

“This one-time offence occurred by mistake, through naivety as to legal requirements,” it said.

The seven tenants had sought a rent repayment order of £40,350 for rent paid during the 12-month tenancy from 1st July 2018.

It ruled: “The respondents were not professional landlords with a wider property portfolio. The above findings concerning the respondents’ good conduct and clean history justify a discount to the rent to be repaid.

“The tribunal considers a discount in the order of 15% in each of these areas to be appropriate, giving rise to a repayment of 70% of the total rent.”

york city council craghill rro

Councillor Denise Craghill (pictured), executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods, tells LandlordZONE: “We want to encourage landlords to comply with the law. Not doing so can cause fines and prosecution. Another consequence is that tenants can make a rent repayment order.

“The council does actively advise tenants in York to make such an application if their landlord has committed an offence.”

Read the full decision.

Read more about HMO management.


  1. Whilst not condoning the LLs actions it does seem that the penalties for the LLs are disproportionate to the offence. RPO and fines seems like a double punishment, particularly as there were no complaints from the tenants and the accommodation appears to have been satisfactory in all areas other than the licensing.


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