A London council is telling its private rental sector residents to use a new tool to check whether they may be entitled to a rent rebate.
Westminster says its ‘checker’ is designed to help the council identify rogue landlords who are letting unlicensed Houses in Multiple Occupancy.
If residents find they are living in an unlicensed HMO, they could be entitled to a rent repayment of up to 12 months’ rent.
If they give consent, tenants who use the checker and find they could be living in an unlicensed property will be contacted by the council to discuss their case.
The authority says: “If we believe they may be entitled to apply for a Rent Repayment Order, tenants will be put in contact with the Safer Renting organisation, who will guide them through the process of applying to the Property Tribunal for an RRO.”
The checker has been created to support a council task force which comprises trading standards, city inspectors and environmental health officers.
The council says it was set up to protect vulnerable residents by investigating landlords and letting agents who flout the rules or provide tenants with sub-standard homes.
A spokeswoman says: “Our goal is to make Westminster a place where high quality housing is available to all. A good home is at the centre of people's lives and we hope this new online tool will help tenants to be aware of their rights and check whether their landlords are abiding by the rules.
“We would encourage all landlords letting homes of multiple occupation to ensure they are being responsible and meeting their full legal obligations or face the consequences.”