A London landlord is the latest to have been slapped with a big Rent Repayment Order for renting out his unlicensed HMO, even though he helped his tenants afford their rent and was flexible when they paid late.

The landlord involved tried to show the tribunal that he would struggle to finance the order, saying that coping with unpaid rent meant he had applied for a Bounce Back Loan but his repayments exceeded his income.

But a First Tier Property Tribunal ordered him to pay back £12,965 to three tenants at his house in Earlsfield Road, along with £300 costs.

The court heard that he was not aware the HMO needed a licence during the tenancy from February to December 2020. He believed that two of the tenants were classed as one household and did not fail to licence it intentionally.

Faulty electrics

The tenants claimed the house was let in a filthy and unhealthy state. They reported a rat infestation, mould on the living room wall, shower head and other areas, along with faulty electrics and plumbing, an old redundant boiler which often broke and fake or not working fire alarms.

But the landlord disputed the allegations of poor repair and said the fact that two of the tenants were still living in the property proved its condition was not that bad.

He has been a landlord in London for several decades and had not previously been subject to any enforcement action.

The court said: “He considers he is a good landlord and goes over and above his duties to help the tenants of property in challenging times including making allowances in respect of rent for repair issues and allowing for late payment of rent.”

However, it ruled that ignorance of the law was no excuse and gave him three weeks to pay up.

Read more: Complete guide to renting an HMO property.


  1. Shambolic. Would be good to know who his solicitors were? I’ve been reading many of your articles, and the legal teams don’t get mentioned. Would really appreciate if you could include this in the future.

  2. Lawyers are a sort of occupying army, plundering the populace.
    Yes, it would be good if they could be named in these articles.

  3. I think the time is coming for all landlords to evict all their tenants and sell up. Leave the government to deal with all UC claimants.

  4. The respondent has been a landlord since 1998 and has multiple properties. He placed the tenants in the property, should have known it needed a licence and should have applied for it. The majority of people reading these articles are landlords. Are you not pleased that action is taken against landlords that flout the law? Is it not frustrating that there are bandits out there exploiting the high demand from tenants and letting sub standard property?

    • You obviously missed the ‘Good Samaritan’ reference in the headline. No, all this anti-landlord legislation just hits the reasonable and decent landlords who make a slip and the army of slimy lawyers are then all over them. As the saying goes “What do you call 30 lawyers chained together under the sea? – A good start”. The real rogues who collect the rent with baseball bats rarely get hit and that is what is so frustrating for decent landlords.

    • While I agree with you in principle, we don’t know all the facts here. Note that “He believed that two of the tenants were classed as one household”, and the inference there is that had this been true, he would not have needed a licence.
      So a lot comes down to this statement – was that a reasonable thing to believe ? Did two tenants claim to be “a household unit” ? It is conceivable that the tenants made statements that could reasonably mean that for the HMO regs they’d be considered to be one family unit – but at the tribunal it’s been ruled that they were in fact unrelated. A quick look tells me that “Households include: … Couples (including married, cohabiting or civil partnerships)” – so did the tenants claim to be a co-habiting couple, but then tell the tribunal that they weren’t ? For the sort of people that will do this sort of thing, it would be a neat way to trap a landlord.
      Does seem like someone slipped up in their referencing & identity checks.

      I do wonder, did he help them in a way that means they have rent arrears ? And can he deduct that from what he has to repay ?

  5. LL should not believe anything.

    Always but always check with the local council to determine what the latest circumstances are.

    Councils rarely communicate changes to LL.

    So always worthwhile checking with the Council.

    Better safe than sorry.

  6. As a side note: “mould on a shower head”. Surely this is normal & the tenant should be expected to clean it off as a matter of course?
    Makes me wonder about the other issues mentioned.

  7. Just looking at the exterior of the property rings alarm bells as to what it’s like inside.

    I think the LL isn’t maintaining the building and the tenants have seized on that fact.

    So, probably 50/50 blame but the LL will always lose in such a situation.

    Shame these LLs (PRS, Council and Social) are out there letting poor quality housing and MUCH MORE needs to be done to punish them properly if they fail to address serious issues.

    The vast majority of decent LLs (myself included) suffer as a result of weak action.


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