A COUPLE have been ordered to repay more than £5,000 in housing benefits following a conviction for a breach of licensing laws.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has reclaimed the money through a Rent Repayment Order (RRO) under new selective licensing laws.

Michelle and Anthony Ormerod had control of properties in Nancy Street and London Terrace in Darwen, which were required to be licensed under part three of the Housing Act 2004.

They were prosecuted under a Northern Residential Property First-Tier Tribunal earlier this year, meaning the council could apply for the RRO.

The order requires repayment of any housing benefit for the 12 months preceding the date of conviction. The pair had to pay £1,577.93 for Nancy Street and £3,828.81 for the property in London Terrace.

Selective licensing laws were introduced in a bid to thwart rogue landlords renting out overcrowded and potentially dangerous homes. In practice it means landlords must adhere to strict rules and their homes are inspected.

Coun Arshid Mahmood, executive member for housing, said: “It is right that those who break the law and fail to hold the correct licensing are fined, and where appropriate made to repay housing benefits under a Rent Repayment Order during any period when an offence has been committed.

"It is important that we send a message to those who are thinking of flouting the law in a similar way that it will not be tolerated, and we will take similar actions whenever possible, prosecuting those who do so.”