Seven tenants have won a huge Rent Repayment Order after their landlord failed to licence a four-bedroom HMO, claiming he had received poor advice from his managing agent.

Jacob Cik, father of eight children – two of them disabled – needed more living space so signed a tenancy on the house at 23 Sach Road in Hackney with Goldpearl Estates Ltd. However, family circumstances meant he was unable to move in so had to sublet the property, a First Tier Property Tribunal heard.

Three signatures

He claimed managing agents City Homes told him that a group of solicitors renting a property was effectively one household and not an HMO. Cik did not realise there were three signatures on the agreement and also claimed deposit protection, gas safety fire assessment and electrical tests were the agent’s responsibility.

The tenants claimed there were only two smoke alarms in the property which had no fire doors, fire safety devices or emergency lighting. There were also no safety documents or managing agent’s details. They told the tribunal that in July 2020 a separate basement flat was created without any extra fire safety measures being put in place or fire risk assessments. They added that the landlord’s agents advertised the property as four-bedrooms but asked that only three tenants were named on the tenancy. The HMO was unlicensed from April 2020 to April 2021.

Full responsibility

The court ruled that it appeared Cik had “unwittingly lumbered himself” with responsibility for obtaining an HMO licence and failed to do this. “In effect he handed over full responsibility to his agents for management of the premises. In doing so he must accept responsibility for the actions of those agents.”

It made a 20% deduction to the RRO and ordered Cik to pay the tenants £21,600, adding: “The situation is such that one must hope that the other respondents will bear part of the load once an award is made.”

4 COMMENTS

  1. Any fool LL MUST know that ultimately the buck stops with them.

    It is a MASSIVE business risk entrusting everything to an UNREGULATED LA!!

    This LL made a VERY poor business decision.
    He has become an unfortuate VICTIM of that decision.
    I would NEVER use a LA.
    NEVER have NEVER will.
    I am responsible for EVERYTHING.

    Therefore I MANAGE everything!!

    It is hardly cost effective to use a LA and then face being fined thousands.

  2. Time that all letting/Managing agents are regulated and responsible for their actions in law. Otherwise there is not alot of point to them. No landlord should use a managing agent service unless the agent is contractually prepared to pay any fines that the landlord may receive.

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