Fight a Rent Repayment Order (RRO)


Landlord: If you’ve just searched for the term Rent Repayment Order, then the chances are very high that you’ve just received a letter with an "Application by Tenant or Local Housing Authority for a Rent Repayment Order" like that on the right.  OR, the first you hear about the Rent Repayment claim against you might be a Notice from the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) dropping on your doormat..

Do NOT IGNORE this application form or the Tribunal Notice. 

Get professional assistance IMMEDIATELY.


The Application form or Notice will tell you WHO is making the claim against you.

If your property is a side-let, it will be the tenant or the Council.

If your property is an HMO, it may only be one or two of your tenants. 

Do not be fooled. The Council will go out of its way to persuade the remainder of your tenants to make a claim because they believe all landlords are criminals and must be punished. Or the no-win, no-fee solicitors will do so in an attempt to increase their fees. In fact they will attempt to track down ALL of your former tenants to persuade them also to make RRO claims against you.

If any of your tenants were claiming benefits towards rent such as Housing Benefit or Universal Credit then the Council will ALSO look to make its own RRO claim against you, because they believe you should provide free housing to their claimants.

The Application Form or Notice will tell you the GROUNDS under which the 12 months' Rent Repayment Order claim is being made

It could be any or several of these:

  • Unlicensed property* (selective licensing)
  • Unlicensed HMO* (mandatory or additional HMS licensing)
  • Illegal eviction (far too easy to do by accident)
  • Harassment of tenant (very easy for tenants to claim you did this)
  • Failure to comply with a Council Improvement Notice
  • Failure to comply with a Council Prohibition Notice
  • * As licences cannot be transferred between old and new owners, these situations are very easy to fall into accidentally. Even if you’ve left the property to a sub-landlord or rent-to-rent operator - you as superior landlord are still very much liable under a Rent Repayment Order.

    The First Tier Tribunal Notice

    If this is the first indication you receive of an impending RRO claim, it means the claimant did not bother to send you the application form. This happens a lot. It means the the process has been ongoing for many weeks whilst you were not aware. You must now act swiftly.

    The FTT Notice will give you important instructions about ‘preparing a bundle’ and when it needs to be delivered to the Tribunal.

    Do not reply until you have professional representation.  

    Do not contact the First Tier Tribunal, your tenants or the Council.

    You can only make things worse. Often very MUCH worse.

    What You Must Do Immediately

    You absolutely must get professional help. You could go to a solicitor but most have very little knowledge of this highly specialist area and we frequently see solicitors making matters worse due to lack of specialist Housing Act and Rent Repayment Order skills.

    You should book an urgent consultation with one of our specialist Rent Repayment Order negotiators who will assess your situation and represent you in negotiations to settle the claims against you on far more favourable terms than you’d get on your own.

    It's important that you make contact with us so that we can explain how we can represent you and make the whole process far less painful, mentally damaging and expensive.

    Contact the RRO Defence Experts Urgently NOW.

    Phone 0208 088 0788

    or click to schedule a call

    or complete the form and we'll contact you

    "*" indicates required fields

    Mobile phone number preferred
    Postcode of the property
    Did the tenants make the claim
    For example, tell us what you've received from tenants or their solicitor, or from the council
    Finally, where did you hear about us?*
    (tick all that apply)
    Webform GF20 RRO
    This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

    Everything you ever needed to know about Rent Repayment Orders 

    Rent Repayment Orders (RRO) were introduced by the Government in The Housing Act 2004 as a PUNISHMENT to Landlords for certain offences.

    Contrary to popular belief, the RROs are not for the benefit of Tenants , nor are they ‘compensation’.  This was confirmed by the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) which creates relevant case law. 

    The RRO claim nonetheless must be made by the Tenant. Expect in the case of a Tenant on housing benefits or housing allowance, a council/local authority can also make a RRO claim to recover 12 months of rent that they’ve paid out.  

    The money claimed by Tenants  is stated by the Upper Tribunal to be a ‘windfall’. 

    Obviously, however, there is significant benefit to Tenants to claim a large amount ‘free money’ by making a claim against their Landlord. 

    Many cases exist where Tenants have ‘played’ their Landlords to set up the situation, over 12 months, to enable them to make a Rent Repayment Order claim. Always in these circumstances, the Tenant knows the relevant law better than the Landlord and they succeed because the Landlord’s failure to understand the law sufficiently leaves them wide open to being ‘set up’ in this way. 

    In at least one case Landlord Licencing & Defence assisted the Landlord with, it was a Council Officer who deliberately ‘set up’ their Landlord this way for this ‘free money’!

    From 2016, it was no longer required that the Landlord had been convicted, simply that they could be proved to have committed the offence to the legal standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.

    What can a Tenant claim with a Rent Repayment Order?

    A Tenant, or each individual Tenant in a shared house or HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) can claim back up to 12 months’ rent.  The same is true for a council making a RRO claim. 

    The Tenant can select any 12-month period within the three years leading up to the claim.  Usually, Tenants  would choose the 12-month period in which they paid the most rent. 

    What are the offences against which a Rent Repayment Order can be made?

    These are set out in the Housing & Planning Act 2016 section s40(3) and are: 


    Relevant legislation

    Having control of, or managing, an unlicensed property. (Failure to Selective Licence)

    s95 Housing Act 2004

    Having control of, or managing, an unlicensed HMO (Failure to Licence HMO)

    s95 Housing Act 2004

    Using or threatening violence for securing entry into premises

    s6 Criminal Law Act 1977

    Illegal eviction or harassment

    s1 Protection from Eviction Act 1977

    Failure to comply with an Improvement Notice

    s30 Housing Act 2004

    Failure to comply with a Prohibition Order

    s32 Housing Act 2004

    Breach of a Banning Order

    s21 Housing and Planning Act 2016

    Landlords are often caught out when any building or flat is sold or bought and which is required by the legislation to have a selective, additional or a mandatory HMO licence, because even if the property was properly licensed at the time of the sale, the licence cannot be transferred. 

    This means that if the property changes owner and the new owner doesn’t immediately apply for a new licence: Hey presto!, the new owner is  automatically guilty of ‘failure to licence’ under s72 or s95 of the Housing Act 2004 and in addition to being liable to be fined or prosecuted by the councils, any occupants become, automatically, entitled to make a RRO claim. 

    A case of ‘using or threatening violence for securing entry’ is remarkably easy for Tenants to make. And if , for example, the Landlord doesn’t have the necessary evidence of giving appropriate notice, then it is a case of ‘guilty until proven innocent’ and the Tenant will romp home to a juicy RRO ‘windfall’ award. 

    Illegal eviction is a trap that even some of the biggest property gurus fall into regularly.  For example, if a Tenant runs away, and ceases paying rent, most Landlords will enter the property and re-let it.  That’s a Criminal Act. 

    Unless the Tenant ‘legally surrenders’ the property then regardless of the fact they’re not paying their rent then, believe it or not, they are still the legal Tenant . 

    And even if they have massive arrears, they are entitled to make a RRO claim for illegal eviction if the Landlord takes back the property without a court order.

    There is only one* other way that a tenancy can legally be ended and that is by an order of the court.  

    (*There is a notion of abandonment, but the law on that is very grey and unsafe for Landlords).

    So that’s it: Surrender by Tenant or Court Order.  Anything else is an illegal eviction.  Even if a Tenant dies, the tenancy continues, and the deceased’s estate could claim a RRO.  

    Any Landlord that locks out Tenants , changes locks – or the myriad of other ‘get rid’ tricks – are guilty of illegal eviction and can expect a massive RRO - probably the full 12 months’ rent.

    How does a Landlord find out they have a Rent Repayment Order claim against them?  

    Usually, the first thing a Landlord knows is receiving a Notice of RRO claim from the FTT.  

    Alternatively, they will receive a letter from a ‘no win – no fee’ company (these are usually, but not always solicitors), claiming the full 12 months’ rent then offering a discount for immediate settlement.

    Landlords should be aware that this ‘amount after discount’ is usually considerably more money than the Tribunal would award.  After all, the ‘no win – no fee’ people are on a percentage (usually 25-50%), so they’re looking to maximise their own fees and profiles.

    How is the Rent Repayment Order decided?  

    The vast majority of RROs never actually get as far as a hearing at the FTT (First-Tier Tribunal), instead they are fought-out in negotiations between, on the one side:

    • A Landlord’s representative (such as Landlord Licensing & Defence ) and on the other side;
    • The Tenant(s) or their ‘no-win, no-fee’ or other representative(s). 

    It is estimated that 80% of RROs are settled ‘out of court’ in this way. 

    However, if the other two sides cannot agree, the matter must be considered by the Tribunal in a formal Hearing - with a considerable amount of time and expense going into the production of legal bundles and often very expensive barristers to present the case at Tribunal.

    Legal costs

    Usually, the only time that the First-Tier Tribunal will only make a costs award against the Landlord of the Tenant’s legal costs is when they judge that the Landlord has acted very unreasonably or has deliberately ‘frustrated’ the legal process (Rule-13 costs).  

    In theory, the Tribunal can award the Landlords costs against the Tenant for the same reason although, practically, this is extremely rare. 

    A word of warning to Landlords, however, when ‘no win – no fee’ companies or Tenant’s solicitors are involved, they are highly motivated to ‘create’ a case claiming unreasonableness and/or frustration of the legal process, against the Landlord. Very simply, this is not for their Tenant client’s benefit, it is in order to increase their fees at the Landlord’s expense.

    We have seen on occasion ‘Rule 13’ legal costs claimed (and awarded) of nearly £22,000 on top of a £6,000 Rent Repayment Order award. Effectively increasing the Landlord’s punishment from £6,000 to £28,000. In this case the solicitor’s case for unreasonableness by the Landlord was upheld by the Tribunal.

    Why Landlords should avoid First Tier Tribunal hearings at all costs  

    Once the FTT has made its decision it will publish its findings.  These are a matter of public record and are now indexed very rapidly by Google.  

    The upshot of this is that the minute anyone types in the Landlord’s name then at/near the top of the Google results will be the RRO determination stating that you’ve been found guilty of Criminal Acts under the Housing Act, Housing & Planning Act, Protection from Eviction Act and/or Criminal Law Act.  

    Not exactly what any Landlord wanting to continue their business wants the Bank/Building Society, Insurance Company, prospective business partner or any Tenant and the Council to see! 

    What’s more, on every housing licence application the Landlord is required to confess any such offences; and it is a breach of licence with a fine of up to £30,000 if a Landlord fails to tell the council in relation to every housing licence they already hold.

    In other words, if you allow a RRO case to go to the Tribunal and you’re found guilty, your reputation becomes severely damaged and will find it very difficult to get a housing licence, or BLT/HMO mortgage or insurance.

    This is why it is essential, the very second you realise that a RRO claim is being made against you that you contact Landlord Licensing & Defence – to obtain the necessary assistance to settle the matter for the lowest practicable amount and keep the matter out of the public domain.  You really need someone that knows what they’re doing to achieve this.

    Professional help for Landlords  

    Landlords Licensing & Defence has assisted many hundreds of Landlords in defending RRO applications.  99% of cases handled by Landlords Defence are settled by negotiation ‘out of court’ and suitable agreements (gagging orders) put in place to keep the matter confidential  and prevent the Landlord against subsequent legal actions.

    Do Not Delay

    If you’ve received any sort of Notice, Letter or Advice of a Rent Repayment Order application, don’t waste valuable hours and days. Contact for help immediately:  Landlord Licensing & Defence

    Contact the RRO Defence Experts Urgently NOW.

    Phone 0208 088 0788

    or click to book a call

    or complete this form and we'll contact you

    "*" indicates required fields

    Mobile phone number preferred
    Postcode of the property
    Did the tenants make the claim
    For example, tell us what you've received from tenants or their solicitor, or from the council
    Finally, where did you hear about us?*
    (tick all that apply)
    Webform GF20 RRO
    This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.