Renters in York will have extra help getting refunds from law-breaking landlords thanks to a new partnership.
City of York Council is set to team up with non-profit organisation Justice for Tenants to allow tenants in the private sector to apply for a rent repayment order, which forces a landlord to pay a refund of up to 12 months’ rent.
According to Justice for Tenants, a rent repayment order is awarded in three cases.
- if the property someone is renting does not have a licence;
- if the landlord has not complied with a council notice;
- or if the tenant has been harassed or evicted without the correct court paperwork.
The partnership was discussed in a housing executive decision session yesterday (Wednesday).
“Justice for Tenants will provide an ability for tenants to make a rent repayment order application which often is a timely and costly process for individuals,” said Anthony Dean, health and sustainable homes manager at York council.
“Justice for Tenants provides initially a free service for individuals to get that information support and advice and if they are successful Justice for Tenants takes a cut of the money that is repaid through the courts’ tribunal process.
“From the local authority’s perspective, it will assist us in terms of identifying properties that are problematic and try to encourage local residents who live in poor quality accommodation…to make a complaint because they’ll have the financial recompense should they be successful in the application.”
There will be no cost to the City of York Council and executive member for housing Cllr Michael Pavlovic highlighted that this will replace the council’s currently less efficient method of checking landlords.
“As a ward councillor with a lot of HMOs in my ward, one of the things that we rely on, frankly, are residents to be our eyes and ears effectively,” he said.
“To say ‘this family house has now been sold, it seems to now be an HMO, can you investigate?’
“But they can’t check whether it’s on a register.”
Coun Pavlovic added: “I think this is an excellent initiative.
“I think it will be a huge benefit.
“I would like to see though once Justice for Tenants and the City of York Council are working together that we do whatever we can to make sure that tenants know that this exists.
“It’s great having it as a system but if nobody knows it’s there, they can’t have recourse to it.
“And if we are trying to encourage landlords who are not aware they have to licence – there may still be some – this might be a prompt for them to register.”