RENTERS could get thousands of pounds back from "dodgy" landlords – here's how to check if you're eligible.
You could get over £50,000 in some cases if your landlord breaks the rules by applying for a rent repayment order (RRO).
An (RRO)can force your landlord to return the money to you in these cases.
You have to prove to a tribunal that the landlord has broken the legislation – but if you're successful, you could be in line for a windfall, property expert Al Mcclenahan said.
Al works for the not-for-profit organisation Justice for Tenants and has represented hundreds of renters, winning them back cash from landlords for years.
He says most RROs are made in cases where you're house sharing and renting a single room in a property.
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"The dodgy landlords out there will often rent out their properties to lots of sharers, but choose not to spend the money required to bring the property up to the legal minimum safety standards," Al said.
He explains who is eligible to apply for a RRO.
Who is eligible?
If your home doesn't meet certain standards, you are eligible to make a RRO.
Most RROs are dished out to renters paying for a single room in a shared rental property because landlords aren't licenced properly.
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If there are three or more people sharing a property, your landlord will need a special licence called a House of Multiple Occupation licence.
However, in some council areas, you'll landlords will need a licence if five or more people live there.
You should check with your local council for more information – you can find out who yours is by using the gov.uk.
This licence is there to protect tenants, Al said.
"This licence ensures there are safety features like fire alarms and fire-doors in the property.
"Without these safety features, tenants in shared properties can be 60 times more likely to die in a fire."
If your landlord doesn't have a licence, they are breaking the rules.
"The licence should be displayed in the entrance hallway of your house – if you are not sure if your property has a licence, you can contact your local council's private housing team, and they will tell you if it is missing a licence," Al added.
A property without a licence is not the only thing that can break the rules.
You could also qualify if:
- The landlord has not complied with a council notice
- The tenant has been harassed or evicted without the correct court paperwork
How much could you get?
If you have lived in an unlicensed house share in the last 12 months, or are living in an unlicensed house share now, you may be entitled to recover 12 months of rent.
"In large house shares, awards can be over £50,000," he said.
He said won back over £51,000 for one tenant.
How do you apply for a RRO?
You will need to apply for an RRO through a tribunal – either you or your council can apply for this.
There is an application form you need to fill out, called an "RRO1" form.
But you can get free advice from Justice for Tenants to help you.
"Justice For Tenants can also do all the steps required from application to doing all the speaking in the hearing," Al said.
There may be fees involved taking your landlord to court.
But housing charity Shelter said these can be claimed back if you are successful.
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Tenants are now better protected and can't be asked to put down excessive amounts of money as a deposit.
Renters in England and Wales can take their landlords to court over problems including cold and damp homes too.
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