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Lettings firm forced to pay back £40,000 in housing benefit

It hasn’t been a happy Christmas for one London landlord, who has been told to repay £40,000 in rent received in the form of housing benefit.

Islington Council took action to reclaim housing benefit it paid to Landhouse Ltd relating to a house in multiple occupation in the borough.

In August, the company had previously admitted operating the licensable HMO without a licence, and was ordered to pay £14,140 in fines and costs.

An inspection by the council’s environmental health officers had found the property to be overcrowded and poorly managed, with alleged fire hazards.

Now at the London Residential Property First Tier Tribunal, Landhouse has been ordered to pay back to the council £39,022.52 in housing benefit relating to the time the flats were rented without a licence.

Landhouse Ltd has now applied for a licence and has agreed to repay the housing benefit. This in turn it to be returned to central government by the council.

Since September 2015, Islington council has extended HMO licensing requirements to cover all HMOs on two of its major residential streets, Holloway Road and Caledonian Road.  This came after evidence of what the authority claims to be “poor management of many rented properties in the streets.”

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