A judge has advised landlords not to rely on other people to keep them abreast of licensing requirements after handing out a whopping £47,000 rent repayment order.
Landlord Karen Merricks tried to argue that she was twice given the wrong advice by Tower Hamlets Council when inquiring about HMO licencing, but a First Tier Property Tribunal threw out her argument and had also relied on her letting agent’s advice, ruling that her ignorance was no excuse.
Her seven tenants who lived at the property in Tomlins Grove (pictured), London, will now share out £47,256 after living there for two years from September 2018.
The tribunal heard that Merricks phoned the council around 2017 when someone in the planning department allegedly advised her that she did not need a licence for the property so she made no further enquiries and took no further advice.
The judge ruled: “The advice she supposedly received was clearly wrong on the first occasion and may well have been wrong too on the second occasion.
“There is a significant possibility that either the respondent gave the wrong information or misunderstood the information she was given. The respondent’s ignorance does not amount to a reasonable excuse.”
It added: “Landlords and their agents would be expected to keep abreast of such matters as the licensing requirements through professional memberships, mailing lists, newspapers, specialist publications.
“The respondent said she relied on agents to keep her abreast of any obligations but such processes are clearly insufficient as she did not pick up on the licensing requirements.”
Kamma CEO Orla Shields (pictured) tells LandlordZONE that many councils are now taking the opportunity to target tenants through the incentive of RROs.
She says: “I think the real lesson for landlords here is that they have to be on top of their compliance. We work with a number of great agents who do a superb job of keeping their landlords informed, but we know that others don’t see it as a priority. Our advice is to work with only the best agents, and give serious consideration to NRLA membership.”