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About Us!

Why do we exist?

As renters know, rogue landlords operate across the Private Rented Sector and have little regard for the law.

Indeed, many landlords, who are required to license their properties, do not bother. This is despite the fact that occupants of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are 6x more likely to die in a fire than others in the private rented sector.

Landlords' disregard for the law comes as little surprise; Local Authorities' enforcement against rogue landlords is pitiful. In England, each Local Authority prosecutes an average of only 1 to 2 landlords yearly for the criminal offence of letting unlicensed properties.

Meanwhile, most legal mechanisms directly available to renters are almost redundant: they are expensive and time consuming, and offer little chance of success or serious compensation.

Yet there is one powerful legal tool that renters can use: Rent Repayment Orders (RROs), which give renters the power to get back up to 12 months' rent from rogue landlords, without the need to hire a solicitor, or the risk that losing a case will lead to paying the other side's costs.

Few renters know that RROs exist and fewer still are supported to make them. So renters continue to suffer and rogue landlords continue to get off scot-free.

That's where Flat Justice comes in: we exist to bridge the gap between the vast number of renters who could make RROs and the much smaller number who do.

We empower renters to make Rent Repayment Orders in order to win justice for themselves, hold their landlords to account and improve the safety of privately rented property.

Our guiding principles:

 

1.    We believe every renter has a right to live in safety and in peace. Our first priority is to help renters win justice from landlords who violate these rights, and, in doing so, create a deterrent against landlords disregarding them to begin with.

 

2.    We believe in empowering renters to win justice themselves. In the long term, we think change will only come from renters themselves having greater power. So, in our practice, we encourage renters to upskill themselves, expand their knowledge, and gain experience of winning justice.

3.    We see ourselves as part of a bigger renters' social movement. We orient our work to complement the wider ecology of renters’ groups who work to improve the law regarding in the Private Rented Sector and improve private tenants' rights.

What do we do?

We do all things Rent Repayment Orders!

Specifically, there are four key aspects of our work:

     We represent tenants in Rent Repayment Order cases.

     We provide free advice and resources to renters making their own RRO applications.

     We campaign to make RROs a more accessible and more viable tool for renters to use to win justice from rogue landlords.

     We challenge RRO judgments that we believe are unfair by assisting appeals to higher courts, so creating valuable case law that assists all Applicants

 

What we don't do:

     We don't do Deposit Reclaim. Deposit reclaim is easy: you can do it yourself. To claim your deposit back independently, use this brilliant DIY pack by Unipol. Shelter also has useful resources here.

Useful tip on deposits : You will see a couple of deposit reclaim outfits advertising on Google, charging extortionate commissions up to 45%. They are not solicitors even though they may advertise pictures of solicitors on their website. Please check their T&Cs very carefully

     We don't make claims at the County Court. We do not make claims for issues other than Rent Repayment Orders. In turn, we do not make claims that must be made at the County Court.

The team:

Flat Justice is a very small team. Initially, we were run by just our three Directors! Since our founding, we have taken on one full time case-coordinator, one part time case-coordinator, as well as a handful of law students who wanted experience advocating at a Tribunal.

While each of our team has expert knowledge of Rent Repayment Orders, we are not solicitors. If we were solicitors, you probably would not end up getting much rent back after fees!

That said, our extensive knowledge of the Rent Repayment Order process and the relevant laws goes well beyond what most solicitors know about RROs. This is because RROs are a very specialised area of law.

Owing to our size, roles at Flat Justice are not concrete, and each member of the Flat Justice team is variously involved in each of the different aspects of our work.

Yet, each of the team does focus on particular lines of work. Find out about the team and what we all focus on below:

Daniel, Founder and Director:

Daniel helps make key decisions about the direction of Flat Justice. Daniel also works on cases, progressing applications from submission right through to preparation for the hearing.

Guy, Director:

Guy provides overall direction and oversight to Flat Justice. Guy is also involved in assisting with cases, and develops the FJ DIY RRO Guide as well as other key resources for DIY applicants.

Benjamin, Director:

Benjamin, alongside the other Directors, helps make key decisions about the direction of Flat Justice.

Iyabo, Director

Iyabo is a former client of Flat Justice who is now also a director. We are a grass roots organisation and like to involve stakeholders in our work. She also brings expertise in social media.

George, Advocate and Campaigns:

George has completed pre-pupillage training as a barrister and works primarily as an advocate, presenting cases before the First-tier and Upper Tribunal. He also assists with research and political/policy campaigning undertaken by Flat Justice.

Francesca, Advocate:

Francesca has also completed her training as a barrister and works primarily as an advocate, presenting cases before the First-tier and Upper Tribunal.

Blue, Case-Coordinator:

Blue prepares cases, and supports DIY Applicants with their claims. Blue is focused on making Flat Justice's approach to case work more collaborative: involving applicants in their own pursuit of justice. Blue also works to deepen Flat Justice's ties with the wider renters movement.

Fenella, Case-Coordinator:

Fenella prepares cases and in quieter moments, pursues research & assists with creating resources for DIY Applicants. Alongside Flat Justice, she works as an Advocate for a human rights group.

What kind of organisation is Flat Justice?

Flat Justice is a Community Interest Company. Whilst we are not a charity, we have a special structure under company law, and have to pass a 'community interest test'. We operate on a not-for-profit basis and our purpose is serving our community: private renters, mostly in London.

Fees we charge for representation are used to fund the free advice and free resources for DIY Applicants, as well as our campaigning work. Our fees are the lowest we think we can charge without going bust. We also have an Asset Lock, meaning company assets are reserved for our stated aims. If and when the company is wound up, the remaining assets will be donated to Shelter, the housing charity.

Flat Justice has Professional Indemnity Insurance and is a member of AdviceUK, a quality assessment and training organisation for social welfare advisory services

Internally, Flat Justice works more like a network than a company. While some key decisions are made by the Directors, many decisions and focus areas are worked out by the whole team.

We don't believe in a rigid hierarchical structure: we're concentrating on getting justice for renters and believe we are best placed to do so when our team works fluidly and collaboratively.

How Flat Justice began:

Flat Justice was founded in 2017 by our co-director Daniel Herm-Morris. Daniel had lived in an unlicensed and unsafe House of Multiple Occupation (HMO). Like many rented properties, it had a number of hazards (in his case, exposed wires in the shower).

Daniel made a Rent Repayment Order on the basis that the property required an HMO licence but did not have one. The outcome was positive, but the process showed how daunting and ring-fenced the law can be – especially when tackled without prior knowledge. Services and support for renters navigating the process were lacking.

Daniel felt strongly that it was a renter's right to live in a safe home. With the hope of making RROs accessible and providing other renters with the help he'd needed, he set up Flat Justice.

Since then, Flat Justice has grown as a team. We work to demystify the law of the private rented sector, supporting tenants living in unlicensed properties or suffering from other offences covered by HaPa 2016. We continue to inform renters of their rights, and to assist them in claiming power back over criminal landlords!

Key wins!

We've won a lot of rent back for tenants!

We have won countless Rent Repayment Orders for renters we have represented. To date we've helped tenants get over ₤750, 000 of rent back.

One of those we represented was Iyabo Oba. Iyabo lived in a property in Hammersmith & Fulham that was not licensed but needed a licence. We helped Iyabo to win ₤4918.38 from her landlord. HearIyabo below talking about what it felt like to win!  

We've shown that 'Property Guardians' can make and win Rent Repayment Orders

We represented Summer Oxley, a 'Property Guardian', who was awarded ₤4,937.40 from her Guardianship company. In bringing the claim, we helped show that 'Property Guardians' can successfully make Rent Repayment Orders.

Read about the win here

We've supported DIY Applicants to win big:

Many of the DIY Applicants we have supported have won big!

We supported Kelly, who was assisting her daughter and her daughter's flatmates in a tricky case. Kelly's daughter and her flatmates won ₤27, 358! You can read more about the case here:

We've helped increase the number of Rent Repayment Orders, and encouraged better compliance by landlords:

Since 2017, the number of Rent Repayment Orders made has vastly increased. We know that this is in part due to our work in bringing claims, supporting DIY applicants to make their own claims, and our efforts in clarifying case law that have made RROs easier to make.

In helping to increase the number of RROs, we've helped increase the deterrence for landlords to evade licensing.

 

 

 

We've won key cases at the Upper Tribunal to develop RRO case law:

We've won a number of key cases at the Upper Tribunal that have developed RRO case law.

Some we are particularly proud of:

 

        In Taylor V Mina we clarified that licences cannot be transferred between landlords. You can find out more about this victory here and here Georgie talking about it here

        In Sharma V Lau we clarified that Applicants are not limited to claiming one year's rent from the date they make an application. Instead, Applicant's have one year from when an offence ends to make a claim. And that, once an Applicant is in time, they can choose any period of the offence to claim back.

One of the first actions of Flat Justice was to have the English Tribunals amend the RRO1 form to make this timing clear: previously the form had stated one could only claim a maximum of 12 months' rent immediately prior to the application date.

        In Opara V Olasemo we clarified that Applicants do not need to prove an offence beyond 'any doubt at all' but only 'beyond reasonable doubt'.

        In Goldsbrough we established that tenants can choose which landlord they wish to make a claim against. That said, Goldsbrough has since been overturned by Rakusen. Rakusen is heading to the Supreme Court so we will have to wait to see if the principle of Goldsbrough is reestablished.

 




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