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London landlord narrowly avoids refunding tenant £32,000

rent repayment order

A landlord has avoided a £32,000 rent repayment order after a judge ruled his flat was at an address not covered by a licensing scheme, but only just.

Christopher Casey’s tenant had claimed that 173A New Kings Road was under Hammersmith and Fulham’s selective licensing scheme and was unlicensed between October 2022 and October 2023.

Rents in this highly desirable area are high – the two-bedroom flat in question was rented for £2,600 a month.

A First Tier Property Tribunal heard that although New Kings Road was in the licensing area, the flat was not on the New Kings Road but on Quarrendon Street and that the only entry to the flat was through a door on Quarrendon Street.

The address had since been changed to 2C Quarrendon Street, and the council had refunded half the licensing fee Casey had subsequently paid.

The council’s private sector housing team leader told the tribunal that flats in Quarrendon Street were never subject to selective licensing.

The tribunal said that Casey was not a professional landlord despite owning other properties and rejected his submission that he was entitled to rely on his tenant-finding firm to keep him up to date on the local authority’s requirements.

“It would be wrong for us to carry out a mini-trial

However, it ruled: “In our judgment, there is a real doubt as to whether under the terms of the notice defining the selective licensing area, a property which is not in fact in a listed street is properly subject to the licensing requirement solely by reason of its address being in a listed street.

“Accordingly, we are not sure that the flat did require a licence. It follows that the tenant has failed to prove to the criminal standard that her flat required licensing.”

Despite the tenant’s claims about an alleged infestation of rodents – which the landlord said he had dealt with quickly – the judge added: “It would be wrong for us to carry out a mini-trial which would trespass on decisions which are for the county court”.

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