RRO GUIDE Get Rent Back Flat Justice RRO Rent Repayment Order Advice UNLICENSED HMO TENANCY
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This is a basic summary of the process of applying to get you rent back through a Rent Repayment Order. Please read through all the advice on this web site to get a clear picture of what's involved. See also Camden's excellent tenant guide to making a RRO application here.

These are the checks you need to make and the steps to take to Get Rent Back:
 
1. Check proof of rental payments, eg bank statements. Please don't send a big pile of bank statements and expect the Tribunal to sort through them: best is an online banking search for your rental payments (or relevant cash withdrawals if you paid in cash) which you then "print" as a pdf. (Under Windows systems there should be an option to choose the printer as "Microsoft print to pdf": choose this to print or save as pdf. If there isn't a print option then press CTRL +P.  On a Mac: look for the PDF button in the lower left corner, click on that pull-down menu, and select Save as PDF). Some banks, e.g. HSBC/First Direct, don't allow you to search transactions older than 3 months: in this case we recommend you "snip" or screenshot the individual transactions and compile them in date order on a Word document or similar. Please note that mobile banking screenshots are very difficult to work with: best to use a real computer as suggested above. It may be helpful to add a spreadsheet of payments, however an exported data file by itself is not good enough evidence as anyone could have typed it.
 
2. Check proof that your property needed a licence. This is a bit tricky: so either it's a Mandatory HMO, in which case you need to show that there were at least 5 occupants sharing amenities such as kitchen, bathroom or toilet (see our HMO definition here). Note the "3 or more storeys" requirement was abolished by the Prescribes Descriptions Order 1/10/2018. Or the property was in a borough with an additional or selective licensing scheme: you can check this here (look under your borough). You also need proof that the property was a HMO, e.g. rental contracts for the minimum number of tenants to qualify as a HMO during your rental period
 
3. Check proof of allegation. e.g., for licensing: email from Local Authority(LA)/Council/borough confirming property unlicensed during rental. Be very careful here that you have a clear statement from the LA about when a valid application was made: often landlords send in an application without payment and/or obligatory supporting documents: this may not count as a valid application. For harassment you will need sworn statements from the tenants concerned or witnesses;

 

4. In the case of HMO property: make up a table showing how the property was occupied over the period for which you apply for a RRO. List tenants names and dates of arrival/departure in a form that is easily understandable;


 
4. Fill out & send RRO1 form with evidence (respect format with content & appendices). Enclose a cheque or Postal Order for £100 or application for waiver (only if approx. <£1100/month earnings & <£3000 savings). You can have multiple tenants covered by 1 fee and 1 application, but 1 person should be chosen as the representative. You do not need a solicitor. Decide also on a postal address for correspondence- the tribunal posts everything even though they email you as well if you request it. Keep a copy/scan of the application!
 
5. After application, the First-tier Tribunal contacts you and checks on available dates (Listing Questionnaire) before arranging for a Case Management Conference (CMC) appointment with you and the landlord and/or their representative/solicitor
 
6. CMC: duration about 30 mins. A Judge checks if there is a case to be answered before proceeding to tribunal hearing appointment and advises what documents/evidence need to be produced and in what format. They also clarify how to communicate. CMC is not automatic so you might not have this stage
 
7. Directions are issued by post:
a) Summary of CMC discussions
b) Clarification of necessary evidence and it's distribution, e.g. 3 copies for tribunal members, 1 for respondent (landlord) and 1 for yourself or your representative
c) Details of how communication must be done before the hearing, e.g. correspondence to tribunal must be copied to the other party
d) Date set for respondent (landlord) to provide statement of defence (usually about a month after the CMC)
e) Date set for applicant (tenant/s) to respond to landlord's defence (about a month after (d))
f)  Date set for hearing: about 1 month after (e)
g) Demand for hearing fee of £200 along with confirmation of attendance at hearing is due within 2 weeks
h) Form for agreement to mediation to be returned within 2 weeks. You don't need to mediate and you are not disadvantaged if you don't. So you only need to tick the box that says you don't want to mediate :-)
 
8. Return to tribunal by post: cheque for £200, agreement/non-agreement to mediate form completed, attendance at hearing form completed
 
9. You receive a bundle of papers from the respondent on date set at 7 (d) above which you can assess and prepare your response to
 
10. You send your response to the respondents defence by the date set at 7 (e). You may add other evidence at this stage including sworn statements. Witness statements must have numbered paragraphs with a statement of truth and the signature of the witness. 5 copies: 1 for yourself (for hearing), 3 for the tribunal & 1 for the respondent
 
11. Attend hearing at date set in 7 (f). You can expect the hearing to last 3-5 hours. They usually start at 10, break for lunch and reconvene after, so it takes a good chunk of the day.
You will have to argue your case against the landlord and/or their representative who may be a lawyer or barrister. Three judges will normally preside over proceedings. Sometimes 2, sometimes 4.
If you are claiming harassment as well and have other witnesses who have made statements, they will need to attend the hearing in order to answer questions about their statement. Although the Tribunal rules are a bit vague on this it is possible to submit witness statements without witnesses appearing: but they carry less weight.

There is a useful guide here for what are called "Litigants in Person", ie people representing themselves or without a lawyer
 
12. A Decision or Judgment will normally be issued within 6 weeks of the hearing

13. (Unlucky for some) The respondent or applicant may appeal against the judgment. They have 28 days from the judgment to lodge an appeal. If allowed the case may be heard at the Upper Tribunal....

 

If you need help you can email us or ring us: see here.


TIPS:

- Get the application in as soon as possible: you can only apply for rent to be repaid that was paid in the 12 months immediately before the date of your application ---STOP PRESS 10/01/2019---- Following our letter to the Tribunal the RRO1 form is now being corrected and this rule no longer applies! You probably now have much more time to get your application/evidence together and might Get Back more Rent :-)

 

- Check who the real landlord of your property is/was. Often agents put themselves as the landlord on a tenancy agreement and hide the identity and or address of the true landlord.  Government guidance here (section 3.8) directs that the respondent should be the eventual recipient of the rent, whatever middle-lease agreements there may be.  Safest bet: use the Land Registry to find the owner of the property (costs only £3) and put them as the respondent along with the agent/shell company etc.: the Tribunal may help decide who is the real landlord


- Judges hate messy paperwork as it wastes time: fair enough. Make sure everything is paginated and indexed properly; bind documents in a lever-arch file with dividers to signpost the content

 

- Make a "skeleton" argument summary: on 1 side of an A4 (no more) summarise the essential details of your application and distribute this on top of your evidence bundles. Take a few copies with you to the hearing. This helps bring everybody up to speed quickly

- Go to a hearing before yours to see how things work: the public are allowed to attend. You can find out about upcoming hearings by checking the schedule at First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) Residential Property, HMCTS, 10 Alfred Place, London, WC1E 7LR tel: 0207 446 7700

- Think carefully about how to present your case. Although you will get a fair hearing, the tribunal has to remain impartial and they cannot make your case for you, so you need to have your arguments ready. Check out especially our pages on case law and RRO history

-Make sure you comply with all Directions issued by the Tribunal: copy your communications with the Tribunal to the respondent, don't miss deadlines for evidence, etc. If you don't comply your application may be struck off: this happened in October 2018 to a tenant RRO case (not one we were assisting with...)

- Be especially well prepared to defend against claims by the landlord for costs to be offset against the rent paid...see our discussion of this here

- On the day of the hearing, make sure you allow plenty of time for security checks at the entrance to the tribunal building. Allow at least 15 minutes for this.

- At the hearing: if judges start talking about costs that the landlord wants to set against the rent repayment, ask them (politely) to explain under what part of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 they believe that such deductions are allowable

 




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