Mistake in form RRO1? …and all decisions using this interpretation…

The new TRO at Royal Borough of Greenwich has pointed out to us a possibly very far-reaching error in the interpretation of HA 2016 relating to Rent Repayment Orders (RROs). If confirmed, this would increase the number of cases where RROs are feasible and would greatly increase the amount of each award. It would also make the use of RROs much more practical and beneficial for Local Authorities (LAs).

The form RRO1 has to be used by both occupants and LAs to make a RRO application. It clearly states: “The Tribunal is not permitted to order payment of any amount in respect of any time falling outside the period of 12 months ending with the date of this application.

The HA 2004 specifically limits only occupier applications to rent paid within 12 months prior to application, not LAs who needed to issue a letter of intended proceedings before applying: they still do under HaPA 2016.

HaPA 2016 does not limit the offence period to be considered within the 12 months prior to application: it only states, as a condition for application, S41(2)(b): “the offence was committed in the period of 12 months ending with the day on which the application is made.” So long as the offence took place at some time in the 12 months before the application then the application is allowed.

The period to be considered, S44(2) (for licensing offences), is: “a period, not exceeding 12 months, during which the landlord was committing the offence”. No mention that it needs to be within the 12 months prior to application, as it does in HA 2004 s74(8)(b). Similar wording for LA applications.

The TRO officer I spoke to at Greenwich had been struggling to work out how to ever get 12 months of HB/UC back in a LA RRO application given that the LA needs to write a letter of intended proceedings before application and wait at least 28 days before applying.

Conclusions: if correct it makes RRO applications more attractive for tenants that have left the property already for some months before applying: they should be able to apply for a period of offence that started before the 12 months prior to the application. It should also make LA applications easier and more cost-effective.