Speaking to a live audience, the 51-year-old said: “If you rent in London, check your home is properly licenced.
“Go on to London.gov.uk’s property licence checker. If your landlord hasn’t followed the rules you might be entitled to thousands of pounds back rent, so it is worth checking that one.”
Holding the correct property licence is a legal requirement and demonstrates that the property is suitable for occupation and managed to an acceptable standard.
According to London.gov.uk, you can check the status of a licence if you are not a council or housing association tenant, at least one person in the property pays rent, the property is not occupied entirely by the owner or members of their family and the property is not solely occupied by a resident landlord and up to two lodgers.
If the property does not hold a licence, a section 21 notice used to begin eviction proceedings will not be valid and tenants may be entitled to apply for a rent repayment order.
A rent repayment order is a financial award decided by a tribunal, requiring a landlord to pay back up to 12 months’ rent to a tenant.
Mr Lewis also told renters to pay their rent on time to boost their credit rating and advised tenants to use services to track and report their rent payments to credit agencies.
For those wanting to get on to the property ladder, Mr Lewis revealed three tips to help them secure a mortgage as banks slash rates.
He urged applicants to check their credit on Equifax, Experian and TransUnion files for errors and ensure they don’t miss any payments that could tarnish their credit score.
“I know people who have not got a mortgage because of an old mobile phone that was linked to the wrong address,” he warned, explaining that it could look like fraud.
The 51-year-old also added that new lenders must do an affordability stress test and so will need to see evidence of income, bills and spending. This means the money-saving expert suggests applicants to be frugal leading up to an application.
Lastly, he recommended most people go through a mortgage broker as they can access acceptance criteria that the public can’t.