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Students Win Rent Repayment

Eight students have been successful in claiming a rent repayment order of over £22,000 for an unlicensed HMO they rented in Birmingham.

The First-tier Tribunal confirmed this last month when ruling on a long-running dispute between the students, their corporate landlord and the personal owner of their eight-bedroom terraced house rental. The eight were not related and shared communal areas and facilities, although each tenant had his or her own room.

They had brought a claim against Khalda Begum, the owner of the property, and Mehla Homes Limited, the landlord of which she was a director.

The tribunal found that both had committed the offence of managing or controlling an HMO let to tenants without a licence when such is required by law.

Only Mehla Homes was named in the rent repayment order, six of the students being awarded just under £3,000 each, and the other two, over £2,000 each. Together they were awarded costs of £300.

Neither Khalda Begum or Mehla Homes Limited contested the claim which had been brought with the assistance of Justice for Tenants, a not-for-profit organisation.

Although only Mehla Homes was named in the repayment order the tribunal noted that rent had been paid directly to the account of K Begum. There was nothing before the tribunal that would explain why the tenants had been directed to make payment this way and it was not a matter for the tribunal to consider. ‘But it may well become a matter for any liquidator or creditor in the courts in due course in the event that any order made by this Tribunal is not paid as required’, said the tribunal.

A liquidator might, for example, query whether Mr Rasheed (of Mehla Homes, who told the tenants to pay the rent to into K Begum’s account) is in breach of duty’, it said. ‘Indeed, similar questions might be asked of Khalda Begum in respect of an obligation to account to Mahal Homes Ltd. If payments were requested to be made in this way, this might well be a matter taken up by creditors’.