Martin Lewis shares new tool to check if your landlord owes you thousands of pounds

Landlord rental
(Image credit: Alamy)

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has shared a new tool to check if your landlord is correctly licensed, if not, you could get thousands back.

He has been helping us throughout lockdown with his money saving tips and tricks - including how to get cash back for working from home - and now Martin Lewis has shared a new tool which can help renters get back money they're owed.

According to legislation, some privately rented homes need a property licence before they can be rented out to tenants - this shows the property is suitable to be lived in and managed to an acceptable standard.

If a landlord isn't properly licensed - they could owe tenants thousands of pounds.

But, there's a catch, it's only applies to tenants in London. But you, or someone you know could end up being due thousands of pounds worth in rent refunds if yours or their London landlord doesn't have the right documentation.

With different London boroughs having different property licensing rules, the Mayor of London has launched a property licensing checker - an online tool which will quickly tell you if your landlord needs a license or not.

woman holding cash

If you find out your property does need a license you will still have to do your research to find out if your landlord has the documentation. And if not, the implications could be huge.

You could even be due a refund of up to 12 months' rent while if you've received a 'no-fault' eviction notice, this will be invalidated.

How to check if your landlord has the correct licence:

  • Step 1. Put your details into the tool here - Simply enter your postcode and address, and confirm you live in a private rented property. You can use the tool if you rent privately (It's not to be used by council or housing association tenants) and at least one person in your household must pay rent.Note that landlords who live in a property with one or two lodgers also don't need a licence, so you won't be able to use the tool if this is your set up. Select how many people live in your home, and how many "households" - if you are renting as three friends, then that's three households. The results will show you whether a license is needed. If so there will be a link to follow.
  • Step 2. Follow the link in the tool to check whether your landlord has the required licence. The tool will  take you to information from your local council to help you check if your landlord has the licence they need. If you think your landlord doesn't have the right licence, you'll be given a link to report them to the local council.

Landlord eviction notice

What are my rights if my home isn't correctly licensed?

It is a legal requirement for landlords to hold the correct license. It's their responsibility to get one – not the tenant's. If your landlord is found not to have the right licence for your home:

  • Any 'no fault' eviction proceedings your landlord has started against you won't be valid. 'No fault' evictions – also known known as Section 21 notices – allow landlords to evict tenants with two months' notice once their fixed-term contract has ended, without giving a reason. If your landlord doesn't have a licence, the eviction will be invalid.
  • You could be entitled to a rent repayment order worth £1,000s. Either you or your council will be able to apply to a tribunal for a rent repayment order. Check with your council what its policy is and what, if anything, you need to do.
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Other things to note: If your landlord is convicted of a licensing offence, or the outcome of a tribunal finds that it's beyond reasonable doubt that they committed the licensing offence they can be made to refund you for the rent you paid while your home didn't have the right licence - up to a maximum of 12 months' worth of rent.

If you pay your rent yourself, the refund will be paid to you – but if you pay part or all of your rent through housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit, that part of the refund will be paid to your local authority instead.

Your landlord could also face enforcement action from your local council.

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)