Students who won a rent repayment order against their rogue landlord are angry that they’re now having to pursue the money in the small claims court.

One of the tenants, Megan Cole, says they left the tribunal feeling overwhelmed and powerless, and has used the experience to write her dissertation, ‘The Power Dynamic in Renting: Rogue Landlords, Vulnerable Tenants and Policy Proposals for Change’, which has since caused a Twitter storm when she posted it online, with more than 117,000 likes in a few days.

After spending a year living in their shoddy and unlicensed HMO in Selly Oak, Birmingham, the eight students were awarded £35,000 by a tribunal.

But their landlord denied all responsibility for the house not being licensed as well as the poor conditions, which included leaky showers, broken boiler and ants’ nests.

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After checking with Birmingham City Council, which told them of the landlord’s rogue status, the eight-bedroom property was deemed un-licensable due to its condition and was only suitable for five tenants.

Landlords can pay a rent repayment order in instalments but if they’re reluctant to pay at all, tenants can apply to the county court for permission to reclaim the money as a civil debt.

More money

“We feel stuck in our situation, unsure of how to obtain the money we are entitled to and wary of forking out more money,” says Meghan.

“This anger and frustration fuelled my dissertation. Those suffering in poor quality housing and squalor shouldn’t require power and money to fix their situations. Ultimately, the nature of UK legislation means this is the case.”

Giles Peaker, housing lawyer at Anthony Gold, tells LandlordZONE that their situation is not uncommon. He says: “Plenty of people don’t pay and the court can’t order your bank to pay either.

“If it’s a rogue landlord company they’ll just fold that and it will reappear with a slightly different name, while it’s also more difficult with a rent-to-rent set up.”

Read more about recent rogue landlord cases.

Pic credit: Megan Cole, Twitter

15 COMMENTS

    • I don’t think “the industry” can fix this one. No matter how good most of us are, or if we were to band together – we have no power to deal with rogues, we just have to suffer from knee-jerk additional red tape intended to fix a problem that’s fundamentally about lack of enforcement of existing red tape.

  1. Councils need to more vigilant. They should be checking properties that advertise rooms. I’ve seen some in my area that are clearly HMOs and clearly don’t meet HMO regulations.

    Universities and 6th Form Colleges need to make students aware of this kind of property and advise them how to check if their house is a HMO and how to check if it’s licenced.

    • Lol, sadly this is NEVER going to happen, it’ll be vast, and I mean vast majority of us, in the decent law abiding etc. Landlord’s that WILL ALWAYS PAY for the rogue few! Flawed system to suit themselves.

      Facts are – regardless of how many strangulation in regulations there is – rogue landlords will always happen, fact.

      Therefore, council etc. know they are and will always punish the greater for the very least, again, fact! I know this as it’s what my dept. does, and common policy = more cash!

  2. I feel really sorry for these tenants court in useless legal system. What about the landlords who are left with £1000s of pounds of costs and a year of no rent due to the courts toothless prevarication. Who helps the Landlords?

    • Indeed you are so correct.

      It is well known the Civil Recovery system in the UK is NOT fit for purpose.
      Phoenix companies arise from payment avoiding companies.

      Feckless tenants don’t pay CCJ if LL bother.

      It is well known that feckless rent defaulting tenants cause LL over £9 billion in losses every year mostly as a result of rent defaulting.

      The numbers of criminal LL avoiding repaying civil debt obligations is minuscule compared the billions of defaulted rent!!

      Of course the ONLY reason such massive rent defaults occur is because of the completely dysfunctional repossession process compounded by the Govt eviction ban.

      If LL were WITHOUT any Court action being required able to remove rent defaulting tenants after 45 days with Police assistance if necessary which would include 2 months rent default and 14 days NTQ then rent defaulting losses would reduce to less than £1 billion every year.

      Of course that might mean Councils have to pay £8 billion to house all the feckless rent defaulting tenants who LL will have been able to evict quickly.

      For this reason alone LL will never be allowed to remove rent defaulting tenants quickly.

      Govt will ensure LL cover the costs of rent defaulting tenants for as long as they can make LL do this before inevitably the Council has to pay for the feckless rent defaulting tenants.

      If LL don’t like this business risk and can’t or refuse to cover such costs then they need to consider whether being a LL is worth the business risk.

      I think NOT!

  3. I feel really sorry for these tenants caught in useless legal system. What about the landlords who are left with £1000s of pounds of costs and a year of no rent due to the courts toothless prevarication. Who helps the Landlords?

  4. Many landlords may sympathise….because they too win court case, but against their ex tenants, who then refuse to pay. Frustrating isn’t it? I wonder if her dissitation considered how landlords feel when tenants refuse to oay rent that they are legally obliged to do? I think we all know the answer don’t we?

    • Truly love this comment, and you are perfectly right. Its funny, but somehow I think her dissertation would have skipped that bit.

  5. The whole system is wrong.

    I’m a brilliant landlord and some of my tenants have been with me for 20+ years. I look after them as I would like to be looked after. I sort out problems immediately, I listen to their problems and help if I can. All certificates are up to date and all compliances are PAT tested. Unfortunately there are bad apple landlords but what saddens me the most is when tenants / people tend to think of landlords as greedy, uncaring, ruthless heartless money grabbers. I have my share of tenants who won’t pay rent and who know I can’t get rid of them for 6 months. They damage my property and don’t expect to pay. One bored tenant set fire to my decking during lockdown. You know who you are Alex. I’m just a regular person and my job is being a landlord to the best of my ability and its the way I make my living. I’m not ripping anyone off and I comply with the law. Don’t judge us all by the bad apples.

    • Unfortunately, thats just it, the media etc get no mileage or money in many of us decent landlords, and so we are all branded rogues. I am still waiting for Shelter and Generation Rents so called ‘Tsunami’ of evictions, I mean according to them all landlords want nothing more than to evict tenants? It shows just how ‘out of touch’ and blinkered those organisations are. I do wish they would be invited to some of the landlord conventions to speak, and maybe they might have their opinion changed, that the majority of us, are decent and law abiding individuals.

  6. As if you needed proof of the asymmetry here.

    This tenant CHOSE to live in a house which was cheap. Presumably it didn’t descend into squalor while she was there, it was probably a pretty poor standard when she signed the paperwork. So she claims the system is broken because she can’t get her hands on a surprise windfall. if it was so bad in that house, how come she didn’t move out and find alternative accommodation?

    Meanwhile, landlords don’t get 117,000 Likes when we moan online about the thousands of tenants who won’t pay us, who damage our properties, who upset their fellow tenants, etc. How many retweets will I get when I mention my tenant who owes thousands but it will take me a year and thousands more to get him out and then I won’t have a penny back from him. Ever.

    • So true Andy, I am sure – if you have not already – been told your a landlord, and you can afford it. I know I have by judges, police and council alike. I wonder how they would feel if they were ripped off for their wages or something similar, and I said, well your in a well paid job, you can afford it.

      • Indeed being a LL is just putting a target on your bank.

        Ripping off LL is considered fair game.

        If LL seek to engage in letting property then they set themselves up to be ripped off at every stage with NO Assistance from ANYONE!

        LL have to accept this business risk no matter how unjustified this is.

        The alternative is NOT to be an AST LL!

        The fact is that ripping off LL is considered fair game by everyone including Govt.

        Being a LL is a thankless task.

        Nobody will thank a LL for being so no matter how well they perform in providing vitally needed rental accommodation.

        This is to say the least somewhat irritating.

        But we are where we are!

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