Thankfully the Upper Tribunal is soldiering on (unlike the FtT London’s Rhipsaspia) and have, just today, produced a Decision in one of our outstanding appeals. You may remember our earlier blog on this case: “The House of Evictions”. Briefly, a tenant in an unlicensed HMO was evicted by the landlady who changed the lock on his room after throwing out all his stuff. He ended up sleeping on the night bus.
The FtT had refused to make a RRO as the landlady’s barrister had managed to persuade the Tribunal to entertain some very unlikely alternative explanations: that the door had been painted shut (not locked with a new lock) and that the long-term occupants of this dangerous and dingy HMO actually had their primary residence somewhere else. The latter being a defence against the licensing allegation as an HMO must be the only or main residence of the occupants.
For Rent Repayment Order (RRO) cases generally the ruling is important in quashing the age-old tactic of seeding uncertainty so that a case cannot be proved “beyond reasonable doubt”. As judge Cooke succinctly states: “it does not have to be proved “beyond any doubt at all””. Clearly it is not always easy to find the balance …but that is why the First-tier Tribunal is staffed with highly qualified and expert members who are experienced in such matters. It is certainly not a call that should be delegated to the Respondent’s counsel.
The case now returns to the FtT for a new hearing…whenever that might be.
In case you’re interested in our arguments presented to the UT, you can read these here