Rent Repayment Order (RRO) applications dropped significantly last year as tenants were put off by more restrictive Upper Tribunal and Court of Appeal decisions.
Flat Justice, which represents tenants in these cases, reports that in 2021, the overall success rate for RRO applications was 84%; tenants won 207 out of 246 cases and were awarded an average of �4,500. However, there were only 120 cases last year, with the success rate dropping to 77%, with tenants being awarded an average of �4,136.
The community interest company believes the dip is largely explained by the Court of Appeal's reversal of the Rakusen v Jepsen decision, which stopped tenants from bringing RRO applications against superior landlords. 'A lot of tenants may not know who their actual landlord is, while a change in fee structure means that every applicant now has to pay �100 instead of a flat fee of �100, which can add up when the case is being brought by multiple applicants,'� director Guy Morris tells LandlordZONE.
Cases fail for a variety of reasons, but it found that the most common was when a tenant failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. Of the 68 RRO failures when this was the case, 13 were directly due to council errors. 'They need to improve their systems,'� says Morris. 'We recently had to withdraw a case after we asked one council if a licence application had been made '� it told us twice that it hadn't but then admitted it had when we checked a third time.'�
Property lawyer David Smith adds that it's hard to understand the substantial drop in applications. 'I doubt that there has been a massive increase in landlord compliance, although I expect things have improved there a bit. More cases are probably settling before proceedings, but it still shows a big drop.'�