A landlord has been handed a £28,000 rent repayment order for having an unlicensed seven-bed student HMO.

Gurjiven Singh Chhokran has to refund two groups of his former tenants who lived in the property in Stuart Crescent, Winchester (pictured) after the first tier tribunal ruled he couldn’t prove his claim that he had tried to get a licence.

But it could have been worse. While the first group applied for an order worth £30,330 after paying £3,370 a month rent from October 2018 to June 2019 and the second group applied for an order worth £16,960 after paying the same rent from July to December 2019, the tribunal awarded them £18,000 and £10,000 respectively, along with £400 costs.

Chhokran said Winchester City Council had lost his application but it was never found and he was previously fined £1,000 for not having a licence, which he paid and didn’t appeal.

No planning permission

During the council’s investigation it found that he hadn’t applied for planning permission for adding two ground floor extensions, changing the property from a four-bedroom HMO to a seven-bedroom HMO.

Chhokran told the tribunal that he didn’t know that the property required planning permission.

It found that he had failed to co-operate with the council in its investigation, as Chhokran had been unwilling to share the cheque stubs to prove he had tried to pay and provide the number of the mobile phone to prove he had chased up the licensing application.

Despite this, it heard that he was an experienced landlord who already held HMO licences for two properties he owned in Southampton.

In its summing up, it said: “The tribunal normally considers [the maximum] award where the evidence shows that the landlord was a rogue or criminal landlord who knowingly lets out dangerous and sub-standard accommodation. The respondent did not meet that description.”

Read more about rent repayment orders.
Guide to rent repayment orders.


  1. This is not ‘not keeping up to date’ – this is trying to fly under the radar and beat the system! He got what he deserved and LLs like him are part of the reason we are so detested!

    The PRS does not need LLs like this!

    • Prior to 2004, a landlord did not need a licence to let out an HMO.
      So a change in the rules can turn a fully legal landlord, into an illegal landlord, even though the accommodation itself has not changed.

  2. I’m not disputing the veracity of your post – just don’t believe anyone can not be aware of how the landscape has changed in recent years. Ignorance of the law a never been a defence!

  3. Hi. I am non-resident landlord, I use the service of the letting company which manages my flats. On of this flat is rent to Limited company, which is it of its sub-letting business ( long term letting for rooms). I was not convince about the idea of letting my flat to someone for subletting, HMO licence being on of the reasons. Although the letting agent informed me that he would put into agreement that at any moment there can be more the 4 people occupying the flat. My question is can I be exposed to some claims as in this case. Thanks


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