A legal tribunal has ruled that an Oxford landlord must refund his tenants rent totalling £2,934 because he housed them in unlicensed Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO).
In December last year, 53 year-old Andrew Coyle, of Daisy Bank Road, Cheltenham, was convicted of managing two unlicensed HMOs - one each in Elton Close and Meyseys Close, Oxford - and fined a total of £10,000 for the offences.
After those convictions, Oxford City Council supported tenants in the houses to make applications for rent repayment orders. These allow tenants in unlicensed HMOs to apply to the First-tier Tribunal Property Chamber (Residential Property) to claim back rent they had paid to a convicted landlord.
In decisions issued on 18 and 21 March 2016 and just published recently, the tribunal decided that three tenants in Elton Close should receive rent refunds from Mr Coyle totalling £1,000 and that three tenants in the Meyseys Close property should receive refunds totalling £1,934.
Cllr Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “The Council welcomes the tribunal’s ruling and will continue to support tenants to recover rents paid to convicted landlords. Tenants in HMOs have the right to safe, healthy and good quality accommodation. Oxford City Council's pioneering licensing scheme has successfully raised standards in the growing private rental sector and we aim to identify all remaining properties where landlords are seeking to avoid detection and bring their properties up to scratch.”
HMOs form an unusually high percentage of houses in the city. An estimated 1 in 5 of Oxford’s resident population live in an HMO. Surveys have shown that HMOs provide the poorest homes in the city and that the majority of these are unsafe. High demand for properties means that some landlords can offer these lower quality properties but still be confident of finding tenants.
In January this year, the Council extended the HMO licensing scheme for an additional five years till 2021.