Campaigning organisation Justice for Tenants has won £25,440 for four renters at an unlicensed HMO after a court ruled their landlord had not tried hard enough to secure a Temporary Exemption Notice (TEN).
Thambithurai Uthayakanthan told a First Tier Property Tribunal that when he found out he needed a licence for the four-bed flat in a former council block opposite the British Library in central London (pictured), he applied for a TEN in December 2019 and again in March 2020.
He believed a licence was not needed as he planned to sell it, while the tenants had also told him they intended to leave.
Justice for Tenants reported that when the four moved in, the flat was dirty with problems including a broken fire detector in the kitchen, broken furniture and boiler.
It said a letter from Camden Council confirmed it had not received a TEN, while his letting agent had offered to apply for an HMO licence on his behalf in October 2019 but that at the time he was more concerned about his sick daughter.
The landlord explained that the water ingress and damp affecting the property were the responsibility of freeholder, Camden Council, while other maintenance had been done within a few days, including fitting a new boiler in October 2019.
Means of escape
The council confirmed that there appeared to have been no fire risk assessment carried out and when asked about the means of escape from one of the bedrooms which was accessed through the kitchen the landlord said that if there was a fire the fire brigade would be there within minutes and could use a ladder to access the bedroom window.
The tribunal ruled there was no evidence to show that Uthayakanthan had submitted the TEN applications and that he had declined help in making the application.
However, it said it was sympathetic to his family problems and believed he had tried to resolve issues, so gave him a 25% reduction in the £33,919 Rent Repayment Order application.
Read the judgement in full.
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