Six students in rented accommodation in London have been awarded £39,000 in compensation. Their landlords have been ordered to pay this record amount to them as a refund for their last year’s rent.

The married couple who were their landlords had earlier been convicted of various safety offences and the magistrates ordered them to pay £9,000 by way of costs and fines. Then the students’ local council assisted them to apply to The Residential Property Tribunal Service for a rent refund. The property, in North London was overcrowded and was not covered by an HMO licence. The council later stated that the landlord had no concern for the safety of his tenants and his only thought was lining his pockets.

Any landlord insurance policy holder with houses in multiple occupation need to make sure that they have the appropriate licence. If you are relying on an agent to look after your interests you need to be absolutely sure that he or she is fully aware of all the legal requirements. You cannot expect to escape liability just because you use an agent and there is no better way to make sure that everything is in order than checking for yourself. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is so worried about some agents that it is campaigning for government regulation of the industry. The RICS points out that anyone can set up a letting business and if the business fails landlords and tenants can end up out of pocket.

According to the RICS their research shows that 87% of landlords favour compulsory regulation for letting agents. It is certainly the case that buy to let landlords need to be very careful in their choice of agent. A recommendation from a fellow landlord can be useful and it also makes sense to check whether or not the agent belongs to an accredited professional body. The rules surrounding things like deposits and notices need to be complied with scrupulously carefully to avoid disputes and even legal action