Understanding Rent Repayment orders part 3: Extending RROs
There are provisions in the Housing and Planning Bill 2015-2016, currently working its way through the House of Lords, which will amend the law on RROs and extend their application to cover other offences including breaches of improvement notices and prohibition notices and offences relating to unlawful eviction and violent entry of premises.
RROs will also be available where landlords have let houses in breach of banning orders: a new provision created in the Bill to tackle rogue landlords.
Local authorities will be encouraged to assist tenants with applying for RROs and they will be under a new duty to consider applying for an RRO if they become aware that a person has been convicted of one of the specified housing offences.
Amendments tabled will enable a person aggrieved by a decision of the First-tier tribunal to appeal to the Upper Tribunal.
The Bill, in its current form, appears to liberalise the rules for tenants applying for RROs so that they no longer have to rely on the local authority obtaining a conviction or RRO for return of housing benefit before they can make their own application to the tribunal.
The tribunal will, however, need to be satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that the landlord has committed an offence. The new provisions will apply to England only.
It remains to be seen how the Housing and Planning Bill will modify the current law on rent repayment orders. Further amendments to the Bill are expected before it completes its passage through the House of Lords. In the meantime, cases like Parker and Waller remain good law and should be considered carefully when dealing with a RROs.