The costs for landlords of operating unlicenced rental properties have been highlighted once more after three tenants have won a £9,600 Rent Repayment Order (RRO) from their HMO landlord.
The four-bedroom maisonette on Zetland Road, Bristol (pictured) in the city's Redlands district, was in Seval Ozay Kafai’s name but a First Tier Property Tribunal heard that her husband Ramiz Kafai took responsibility for managing it.
If there was a problem, the tenants rang Kafai, although he often took some time to respond. Together, they paid a monthly rent of £2,400.
Bristol Council introduced a central additional licensing scheme in July 2019, but investigations in 2022 revealed the HMO was unlicensed. The couple were told that an application should be submitted within 28 days, but this wasn’t made. After a follow-up letter, a licence application was finally received.
The tribunal ruled that it was satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that the landlord had committed an offence during the period from April to July 2022 and that despite one of the four tenants failing to make an RRO application - as the tenancy agreement had been a single joint tenancy consisting of four individuals - the maximum payable was £9,600.
The judge added that the tenants’ conduct appeared to be above reproach and added: “By declining to engage with the tribunal process, the respondent chose not to take his opportunity to give evidence of why the property was unlicensed or evidence of his financial circumstances. The tribunal therefore determined that there was no reason not to award the maximum sum permissible.”
After the hearing, Kafai sent an email to the tribunal office, requesting a delay following the recent death of his son, and that he wished to enter a defence. However, he was told it was too late to consider a postponement.
Pic credit: Google Streetview