Being ignorant of landlord law is no defence, a brutal legal point that has cost a landlord duo in London dearly after they were told by judges to repay their tenants £12,500 via a Rent Repayment Order.
The two Slovakian tenants, Amanda and Miroslav Jesensky, who do not reside in the UK any longer, have successfully claimed the cash off Mohammed and Ghazala Butt
This followed the discovery that their East London rented house owned (pictured) by the Butts had not been licenced under Waltham Forest’s long-established selective licencing scheme during their tenure.
The couple rented the property for nearly ten years during which two successive selective licencing schemes have been in operation, each promoted by the council via advertising, mail-shots and information on the council’s website.
The Butts pleaded innocence of the scheme, blaming the council for its failure to inform them of their statutory duty to licence the property.
But judges at the Property Tribunal hearing pointed out that innocence of the law was no defence in such Rent Repayment Order cases, in accordance with the Housing and Planning Act 2016.
They added somewhat candidly to the Butts that: “Becoming a landlord is a serious undertaking – a landlord can literally hold the lives of their tenants and their families in their hands.
“It is not only that ignorance of the law is no excuse but that it is incumbent on landlords to familiarise themselves with the legal requirements to which they are subject.
“They are not entitled to keep quiet and wait until the local authority catches up with them.”
The landlords were lucky to one extent – the Jesensky’s original claim was for nearly £16,000 but this was reduced as it was a ‘first offence’ and the judges also took the landlords’ financial position into consideration.
They have until 10th August to appeal the decision. Read the decision document in full.
Pic credit: Google Streetview.