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Get Rent Back Flat Justice home RRO Rent Repayment Order Advice

RRO Statistics

Data Sources

One of our former clients, Chris, a former guardian and data specialist, has been helping us check on the RRO statistics so far. When we first started, the Tribunal didn't upload their decisions to the HMCTS website ....after we wrote a number of times about this they eventually started uploading some. Now pretty much every decision gets uploaded there. The Upper Tribunal has a different upload site for its decisions. These are the sources for most of the data used here: 742 RRO cases at the First-tier Tribunal (FtT) & 36 at the UT since the start of the The Housing and Planning Act 2016 (HaPA) RRO scheme. Chris has set up a twitter bot (@dev_rro) to retweet new decisions from both sites. He has also downloaded all the decisions and analysed them for useful information. Flat Justice uses this information to support arguments on behalf of clients in RRO cases but it's also useful for general information on RROs which we give here.

NB: an important caveat. We estimate that up to half of RRO applications are settled before reaching the Tribunal. Given that these are likely cases that would have been successful, the success rates shown below are a significant underestimation of the real success rates

What are my chances?

For 2021 we calculate that the overall success rate for RRO applications was 84%.

RRO data analysis excerpt for 2021 all cases success rate

The average award in 2021 was ~£4,500 per applicant.

For 2022, after some more restrictive Upper Tribunal and Court of Appeal decisions, so far it is 77%:

RRO data analysis excerpt for 2022 all cases success rate

The drop is largely explained, we believe, by the Court of Appeal's reversal of the Rakusen v Jepsen decision which stopped tenants from bringing RRO applications against superior landlords: many cases that had already been submitted would have failed on that basis. The average award per Applicant also fell back to ~£4,100. Still not bad.

FAKE NEWS ALERT! One website that offers representation for RRO cases has been putting about a statistic that unrepresented or DIY applicants fail with their RRO applications 79 % of the time. We have no idea where that statistic comes from. It certainly does not match what we have found by diligent analysis of the data. The vast majority of RRO applications are by unrepresented tenants so, given the very high success rate of all RRO cass, this failure rate is impossible.

How much Rent will I Get Back?

The success rate should not be mixed up with the %-age of Rent that you can Get Back. RRO awards are very often given as a percentage of the rent claimed: reductions from the maximum allowable figure are made due to a number of factors such as tenant & landlord conduct and whether utilities were included in the rent. It also depends on the latest case law and guidance from Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) (UT). The graphic below shows how this has changed, mapped to the main UT decisions in 2021:

Rent Repayment Order (RRO) Case Law & % Rent awarded

After the 2020 Vadamalayan v Stewart [2020] UKUT 0183 (Vadamalayan) decision there was a marked improvement in RRO awards. This was chipped away at by a number of decisions in 2021 particularly Williams v Parmar [2021] UKUT 244 (LC) (Williams) where UT argued that 100% awards should not be the default award.

On our method here: the 'claim amount' is the amount determined by the Tribunal as the maximum allowable rent paid for the period considered. So,  if an applicant claims £10,000 but Tribunal says max rent paid was £5,000 and awards £4,000 we would represent that here as: claim: £5,000; award: £4,000; percentage: 80%.

The judgment needs detailed reading to assess the reasons for an RRO award adjustment from the maximum. Often there are multiple reasons and generally we list these separately (although they can be related) and in priority order with perceived or numerically most impactful first.  For example 'LL conduct, disrepair' means that there were 2 prime elements discernable in tribunal's discretionary element: landlord (bad) conduct & disrepair. When, on reading that judgment we have the impression LL conduct was more of a factor than disrepair we consequently list them in that order. For the above example of 'LL conduct, disrepair', please see below a screenshot of a paragraph from the related judgment:

Para from Judgment where conduct+disrepair were main factors in award Rent Repayment Order (RRO) www.GetRentBack.org 

What Are the Main Reasons for a case failing?

In the table below we summarise the reasons for cases failing to achieve an award. Normally there is 1 main reason for failure: when there are more reasons these are listed in order again of importance. Some of the most frequent reasons are highlighted:

Table of RRO failure reasons Rent Repayment Order www.GetRentBack.org

Below is a table extracted from our data showing all the failed RROs looked at with the reasons for failure along with the notes made form reading the decision:

notes basis reason (for failure)
rent to rent, superior landlord, valid application had been made, prompt application made on update unlicensed HMO valid licence application made
council not confirmed application received and they took so long inspecting the R was covered unlicensed HMO valid licence application made
no written agreement, respondent claims HMO obligation is freeholders unlicensed HMO UC used for rent
offence committed, 'good landlord' respondent misled by agent, applicants get fees unlicensed HMO Tribu_NAl discretion
Oral hearing and applicant cross-examination required, Applicant refused, claims autism. unlicensed HMO, violent entry, illegal eviction/harassment Rule 9(b) Applicant fails to cooperate
council website glitch, council lethargy unlicensed selective reaso_NAble excuse
purpose-built block of flats, Additional HMO, council says they will tell LL to licence evidence from council unlicensed HMO reaso_NAble excuse
respondent thought they had licensed, council IT & payment system deficient and did not respond to chasers on application status unlicensed HMO reaso_NAble excuse
respondent had made application but not paid til some time later. Tribunal were convinced respondent believed they had applied. Hearing fees shared despite applicant loss unlicensed HMO reaso_NAble excuse
initial application didn't work, application for another property made at same time did - respondent wasn't to know unlicensed HMO reaso_NAble excuse
agents failed and misled abroad LL unlicensed HMO reaso_NAble excuse
council IT prevented application unlicensed HMO reaso_NAble excuse
occupants unknown to LL unlicensed HMO reaso_NAble excuse
ignorance unlicensed HMO reaso_NAble excuse
ignorance unlicensed HMO reaso_NAble excuse
council revokes HMO licence but shoddily (serving, reason, dates unclear). Applicants not able to prove it was effective and property unlicensed unlicensed HMO property licensed
application made unlicensed HMO period
application made unlicensed HMO period
application made unlicensed HMO period
application made unlicensed HMO period
application made unlicensed HMO period
most of claim struck out, harassment was by other tenants, not LL unlicensed HMO, violent entry, improvement order, illegal eviction/harassment offence out of time, insufficient evidence, insufficent harassment
poor tenant conduct unlicensed HMO, violent entry, illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out, reaso_NAble excuse
excessive energy use (bitcoin) dissuaded by electirc deprivation was OK, as was CCTV cameras non-targetted and in light of damage violent entry, illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
insufficient evidence to criminal standard of proof, tenant or lodger, were there shared areas?, sub-divided flat? unlicensed selective offence not made out
lodger? possibly-resident landlord unlicensed selective offence not made out
building not certainly licensable, no improvement notice, building works not harrassment unlicensed HMO, improvement order, illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
lots of property troubles (electric, plumbing), applicant hangs up on tribunal unlicensed HMO, improvement notice, illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
definition of landlord, rent to rent, respondent confusion, status of occupants (5th person) unlicensed HMO, illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
no witness statements from other occupants, insufficient for harassment, big arrears unlicensed HMO, illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
messy case, applicant insufficient evidence (whatsapp) for HMO, very disputed situation on other offences, knife assault claims amongst others unlicensed HMO, illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
19 offences! , insufficient evidence , incomplete evidence unlicensed HMO, illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
0 unlicensed HMO, illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
0 unlicensed HMO, illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
applicangts vague on occupancy with no witness statements, incomplete bank records provided, sub-letting unlicensed HMO offence not made out
Mandatory HMO, multiple floors, converted building, separate flats, occupancy unlicensed HMO offence not made out
vague evidence as to proving 5 person occupancy unlicensed HMO offence not made out
no applicant evidence of the Additional HMO scheme was operating (it was) unlicensed HMO offence not made out
applicant not able to show 5+ main residence occupiers. Other residents or council EHO unwitnessed unlicensed HMO offence not made out
questionable valid application curtails most of the claim, applicants witnesses statements were poor quality unlicensed HMO offence not made out
Applicants no witness statement and FTT refuses to allow oral evidence. Applicants also reveal discrepancy of occupation and claim at last minute. JfT representing applicants. unlicensed HMO offence not made out
Applicants no witness statement and did not attend, TH EHO driving the appllicants case. Respondents claimed R2R scammed unlicensed HMO offence not made out
insufficient evidence of other occupants esp. 5th person unlicensed HMO offence not made out
self contained flats are HMOs but not licensable in their own right, property as a whole is not an HMO unlicensed HMO offence not made out
insufficient evidence to criminal standard of proof, rent was all UC too unlicensed HMO offence not made out
beyond reasonable doubt on the 3rd occupant unlicensed HMO offence not made out
lack of witness statements from co-tenants (re main residence) unlicensed HMO offence not made out
5th person off-contract , lack of witness statements from co-tenants unlicensed HMO offence not made out
respondent probably made valid application, licence expiry unlicensed HMO offence not made out
valid licence application made unlicensed HMO offence not made out
council IT prevented application (?) unlicensed HMO offence not made out
council IT prevented application (?) unlicensed HMO offence not made out
council IT prevented application (?) unlicensed HMO offence not made out
council IT prevented application (?) unlicensed HMO offence not made out
council IT prevented application (?) unlicensed HMO offence not made out
council IT prevented application (?) unlicensed HMO offence not made out
council IT prevented application (?) unlicensed HMO offence not made out
council IT prevented application (?) unlicensed HMO offence not made out
council IT prevented application (?) unlicensed HMO offence not made out
council IT prevented application (?) unlicensed HMO offence not made out
council IT prevented application (?) unlicensed HMO offence not made out
council IT prevented application (?) unlicensed HMO offence not made out
council IT prevented application (?) unlicensed HMO offence not made out
council IT prevented application (?) unlicensed HMO offence not made out
additional scheme, flat not proved s254 HMO unlicensed HMO offence not made out
HMO not evidenced, correct respondent not evidenced, no witness statements unlicensed HMO offence not made out
application made unlicensed HMO offence not made out
application made unlicensed HMO offence not made out
council advice, households unlicensed HMO offence not made out
not main residence unlicensed HMO offence not made out
not main residence unlicensed HMO offence not made out
Unknown Unknown offence not made out
0 improvement notice offence not made out
upmarket flat in disrepair separately subject to county court case. Alleged homophobic landlord but not made out re harassment or illegal eviction illegal eviction/harassment, unlicensed HMO offence not made out
no witness statements even from applicant themselves means (additional) HMO not made out, harassment incidents not serious enough illegal eviction/harassment, unlicensed HMO offence not made out
bad actor is another occupant, not landlord. On HMO: insufficient evidence / unclear picture illegal eviction/harassment, unlicensed HMO offence not made out
complex case, long term joint tenant overcharges fellows and then excludes them from the property claiming to be their mesne landlord illegal eviction/harassment, unlicensed HMO offence not made out
beyond reasonable doubt illegal eviction/harassment, unlicensed HMO offence not made out
improvement notice not served to LL properly, disrepair and contractor behaviour not credible and not harrasssment illegal eviction/harassment, improvement order offence not made out
insufficient evidence of illegal eviction/harassment, no evidence of improvement order illegal eviction/harassment, improvement order offence not made out
disrepair to encourage departure, no 3rd party evidence illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
neighbour noise, lack of repairs, correctly served s21 are not harrassment, R costs application fails illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
Serial postponer tries to postpone a 4th time (rejected) then doesn't show for hearing. Has weak written evidence. LL wanted to discuss rent arrears illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
applicant who previously tried to RRO for flatmate behaviour claims harassment when LL agent/friend requests 9 month rent arrears be repaid. Applicant aggressive in emails illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
minimal evidence of insufficient events. Respondent costs application rejected illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
behaviourrnot sufficientnot sufficient illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
beyond reasonable doubt/not sufficient on no heating, lock out, trespass (heating also affected respondent, 'generation') illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
landlord access whilst applicant on holiday illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
beyond reasonable doubt, lack evidence, offences after NTQ illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
beyond reasonable doubt illegal eviction/harassment offence not made out
s254, s257, self-contained flat separate to wider property - complex monastery situation unlicensed HMO, harrassment not licensable, out of time
self-contained? Council deliberations, LL makes strong effort to establish licensability unlicensed HMO not licensable
only or main residence (of 5th person) not established beyond reasonable doubt unlicensed HMO not licensable
regulation 4(c)(ii) of the 2018 Order "purpose-built flat" meaning unlicensed HMO not licensable
RRO against director of landlord company (Camelot) unlicensed HMO, unlicensed selective no jurisdiction
housing benefit tenant tries to RRO council fails on not an HMO, schedule 14 exemption, housing benefit rent. No improvement notice unlicensed HMO, illegal eviction/harassment, improvement notice no jurisdiction
3 storeys criteria not met unlicensed HMO no jurisdiction
arrears and housing benefit mean despite offence proven, no RRO made unlicensed selective Negative award
applicant and respondent non-credible, sketchy financial arrangement, rent to rent illegal eviction/harassment, unlicensed HMO invalid applicant, offence not made out
no written agreement, respondent unclear, respondent is agent unlicensed HMO incorrect respondent
superior landlord incorrectly as respondent unlicensed HMO incorrect respondent
superior landlord incorrectly as respondent, amendment out of time unlicensed HMO incorrect respondent
12month limitation expired, director of LL company unlicensed HMO incorrect respondent
12month limitation expired, director of LL company unlicensed HMO incorrect respondent
dupe dupe dupe
4-person clause in tenancy, secret children, pregnancy, COVID - "a truly exceptional case" unlicensed HMO discretion
applicant was resident within 12 months but offence not within that residence unlicensed HMO, illegal eviction/harassment application out of time, offence not made out
council applicant error unlicensed selective application out of time
follow on application by other 4/5 applicants. Claims they were meant to be on original application unlicensed HMO, illegal eviction/harassment application out of time
tried to join another RRO (which was later successful) but was out of time unlicensed HMO application out of time
3rd applicant leaves property meaning not Additional HMO from that point, no evidence of new housemates unlicensed HMO application out of time
vague application tries to follow on another successful RRO but out of time unlicensed HMO application out of time
left for COVID, no longer 5 occupants (re main residence) unlicensed HMO application out of time
application out of time and otherwise flimsy evidence (from council) of an offence or not unlicensed HMO application out of time
disrepair Prohibition Order noncompliance applicant had left property
0 unlicensed HMO amount of rent (UC) unknown
s95 application should have been s72. amending application/case was after 12 months of offence. Mixed Mandatory, Additional, Selective! unlicensed selective amendment out of time

Looking at the most common reasons in more detail:

'offence not made out'

Clearly the most common reason. RRO offences need to be proved by the Applicant to the criminal standard of evidence, i.e. "beyond reasonable doubt". This does not mean "beyond any doubt at all" as we showed in the Opara v Olasemo case. But it can still be a tough hurdle. Here are some of the common reasons for failure under this category:

  • Council error: a huge proportion of the failures are due to council errors/incompetence. Of the 68 RRO failures for 'offence not made out', 13 were directly as a result of council errors. For example, taking one of these cases, this is an extract from the judgement:
    para from RRO judgment where council IT was a failure cause Rent Repayment Order www.GetRentBack.org
    It is also, unfortnately, the experience at Flat Justice that errors at Local Authorities (LAs) are very frequent and can, if not guarded against, cause an application to fail

  • Illegal eviction/harassment: a very high proportion of failed cases are for this offence. It is an unfortunate fact that many tenants in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) feel they are victims of harassment by their landlord. However proving this to the criminal level can be very, very challenging. Equally unfortunately, tenants are often evicted on an illegal basis but 'go along' with the eviction and move out rather than waiting for a possession order: if the Tribunal considers that Applicants may have known their eviction basis was illegal then there may be no award as they did not resist.

  • Applicants not appearing at the Tribunal hearing to confirm their Sworn Witness Statement (SWS)

  • Not sufficient witnesses/Applicants to prove occupancy which is denied by Respondent

  • Insufficient evidence of payments

'reasonable excuse'                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

This is when the Tribunal considers the LL had a reasonable excuse for the offence. Often these can also be linked to council errors, for example in one case the council had told the LL that they would let them know if their property would become licensable but then didn't do so (second in this category).
Altogether there were a further 6 failures under this category due to mistakes by councils.
But this failure category may also relate to, for example, a HMO being created in a property without the LL's knowledge, e.g. by tenants illegally subletting.

'application out of time'

A further 2 failures here were due to council errors. Timing of an application is crucial: the 12 month window for RRO applications is critical. This limitation also covers important changes to the application, e.g. additin of a Respondent.

'period'

In this category there has been an application made such that the applicant is left with no offence period against which to claim. Looking at the notes for this category we see 'application made' as the only reason here: this means that the landlord had applied for licence before the claim period started. These are nearly always also a result of council errors in informing Applicants about licence application dates. For example, in the second case listed:

We counted that 4 of these failures were due to councils supplying false information.

'incorrect respondent'

The Rakusen case which disallowed applications against higher landlords is probably the biggest factor here although there are still some As that make applications against agents rather than landlords.

Why & when are deductions made to RRO awards?

This has changed a lot over from the start of the The Housing and Planning Act 2016 (HaPA) RRO scheme introduction in 2018. To start with, Tribunals were using the Parker v Waller case law under The Housing Act 2004 (HA) that was looking at landlord 'profit' and so allowed a whole variety of costs now not allowed (especially mortgage payments). Nonetheless, the surge in RRO cases in more recent times outweighs the earlier cases so the findings are still useful.

2021 deductions analysed
We sorted the awards made in 2021 according to the main reasons for allowing a deduction, or not allowing any deduction. We're still working on the  2022 data....coming soon! Ignoring the categories such as 'period', 'UC' (Universal Credit) & 'utilities', which are not discretionary (so can be calculated), the main categories are:

  • LL  conduct: this is negative landlord conduct and takes in a whole host of behaviour, often including harassment and abuse & is a factor in not reducing the award from 100%

  • LL +conduct: positive landlord conduct works the other way and helps to reduce the award

  • +condition: similarly, a property that was in good condition during the period applied for was a mitigation and led to smaller awards

  • arrears: tenants had not paid all the rent due in the period

  • fire safety

  • LL professional/ LL unprofessional: so a professional landlord is normally one with  more than 1 property. Clearly there are different degrees here ranging from a LL with 2 properties to listed companies owning £millions of property and the awards normally reflect this

Clearly LL conduct is an important category in setting the award level. The highest award made where on balance there was positive LL conduct was 75%.

Most of the higher awards involved negative LL conduct and a number of other factors, particularly previous offences (LL offence), LL professional and safety issues at the property.

 

Here are the results in full:Game Over for Landlord Cash Machine Rent Repayment Order (RRO) www.GetRentBack.org

    Deduction reasons 
 
Number of cases  Total of claim amount  Total of Award  % of Total Rent Awarded
         
         
arrears 3 30106.04 19439.04 64.57%
arrears, none 1 14389.75 14258.33 99.09%
arrears, overpay 1 8100 6579 81.22%
discretion 11 186359.31 132880.61 71.30%
landlord finances, LL unprofessional, utilities 1 18939.95 10598.8 55.96%
LL +conduct 2 26865 18547.5 69.04%
LL +conduct property +condition 1 9475 6500 68.60%
LL +conduct, LL finances 2 37848.95 28340 74.88%
LL +conduct, LL health 1 28339.92 18420.96 65.00%
LL +conduct, precedent 1 11024.72 5485 49.75%
LL +conduct, tenant conduct, arrears 1 19447.92 9262.66 47.63%
LL +conduct, utilities 2 18912.06 9914.72 52.43%
LL conduct 55 619746.18 592347.17 95.58%
LL conduct, Applicant conduct(arrears) 1 6655 3327.5 50.00%
LL conduct, bad condition 1 6240 5692 91.22%
LL conduct, conviction 1 3000 3000 100.00%
LL conduct, dangerous property 1 12204.84 12204.84 100.00%
LL conduct, discretion 6 104292.78 98130.47 94.09%
LL conduct, discretion, utilities 2 7644.02 4075.82 53.32%
LL conduct, disrepair 1 22676.16 17007.13 75.00%
LL conduct, fire safety 8 250803.75 246400.73 98.24%
LL conduct, fire safety, flooding 1 28817.95 28817.95 100.00%
LL conduct, fire safety, hygiene 1 4650 4650 100.00%
LL conduct, gas & fire safety 1 10400.04 10400.04 100.00%
LL conduct, LL finances 1 11403.29 7982.3 70.00%
LL conduct, LL finances, utiities 1 19400 10440 53.81%
LL conduct, LL health 1 21573.03 14250 66.05%
LL conduct, LL offence 2 11640 11640 100.00%
LL conduct, LL offence, sham 1 10768.88 10768.88 100.00%
LL conduct, LL participation 4 26715 26715 100.00%
LL conduct, LL unprofessional 1 15640 11730 75.00%
LL conduct, multi-offence 1 4200 4200 100.00%
LL conduct, period 1 3780 945 25.00%
LL conduct, sham 1 20374 20374 100.00%
LL conduct, tenant conduct 4 40792.49 29050.24 71.21%
LL conduct, tenant conduct, arrears, UC 1 13125 6250 47.62%
LL conduct, utilities 3 64051.96 57803.95 90.25%
LL finances 2 22860 19740 86.35%
LL finances, utilities 1 21245.71 8361.98 39.36%
LL no previous, utilities, LL conduct, LL poor health 1 9482 7618 80.34%
LL offence 1 6000 6000 100.00%
LL participation 3 18271.39 18203.15 99.63%
LL participation, LL professional 1 19350 19350 100.00%
LL professional 1 10800 10800 100.00%
LL professional, LL conduct 1 22532.86 22532.86 100.00%
LL unprofessional 1 2825 1413 50.02%
LL unprofessional, good standard 1 19328 9664 50.00%
LL unprofessional, LL conduct 1 7200 4500 62.50%
none 20 283895.28 280679.53 98.87%
period 3 48506.74 36746.52 75.76%
period, agent expectation 1 25440 19080 75.00%
period, discretion 1 4800 1600 33.33%
period, LL conduct 1 1480 1448 97.84%
precedent 1 21600 10800 50.00%
property +condition, utilities 1 8400 5355 63.75%
property condition 1 2713.69 2713.69 100.00%
tenant conduct 1 54240 47256 87.12%
tenant conduct, landlord finances 1 7650 765 10.00%
tenant conduct, LL conduct 1 7279.7 3639.85 50.00%
trespass, arrears, UC 1 52500 43468 82.80%
UC 1 5190 2820 54.34%
UC, LL conduct 2 18360.62 12496.46 68.06%
UC, LL conduct, arrears 1 8520 6920.51 81.23%
UC, utilities, arrears 1 11007.14 4280.57 38.89%
utiities, LL conduct 1 19350 16803.56 86.84%
utilities 11 94776.92 80023.97 84.43%
utilities, discretion 2 53467.89 34589.85 64.69%
utilities, fire safety 1 4160 3328 80.00%
utilities, LL +conduct 2 7009.904 3791.27 54.08%
utilities, LL conduct 3 25773.5 22214.74 86.19%
utilities, LL participation 1 8467.74 8227.74 97.17%
utilities, period 1 8816 7304 82.85%
utilities, tenant conduct 1 1740 1376.35 79.10%
         
Grand Total 207 2698927.824 2307277.88 85.49%

 

 

 


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