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One of the first: landlord repays housing benefit following new legislation

An Essex council claims it is one of the first to be granted a rent repayment order - part of legislation introduced under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

Thurrock Council has reclaimed over £1,000 of housing benefit paid to rogue landlord Tobe Ayandare following a tribunal. 

The landlord was initially fined £9,000 in March this year for failing to comply with an improvement notice under the Housing Act 2004. 

At the same time, property management agency Cephas Homes Limited was also fined £2,000 and its directors Boianie Idowu and Olumide Idowu fined £5,000 each and ordered to pay costs and a victim surcharge.

The occupier of Ayandare's property in South Ockendon made a complaint to council officers who found it to have ten different health and safety hazards, including rodent infestation, a leaking boiler and insecure window frames and doors.

Following the landlord’s failure to comply with the improvement notice issued and the subsequent March prosecution, Thurrock Council sought to recover the housing benefit payments it had made to the landlord during the ten-week period he had failed to comply with the improvement notice.

"This is a landmark case for the council. I am delighted that not only have we been able to prosecute and ensure the necessary improvement works are carried out at the landlord’s expense, but also to recover rent for the very first time," said Councillor Barry Johnson, Thurrock Council's portfolio holder for housing.

"Everyone should have a good quality place to live and will not tolerate landlords exploiting their tenants by taking rent, or taxpayers' money in the form of housing benefit, while forcing them to live in unacceptable conditions."

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