Rent Assessment

After the Tribunal has received an application from a landlord or a tenant for an assessment of the rent (see Section 13 rent increases), the Tribunal will either send to both of them notice of a hearing date, or notice of its intention to make a decision with no hearing. If the Tribunal send a notice of no hearing, both the landlord and the tenant will be given a date by which they must send to the Tribunal their objections to the ‘no hearing’ decision.

If either the landlord or the tenant requests a hearing then one will be held. Hearings are public and the landlord and the tenant may be represented by a solicitor, barrister or other person. Both the landlord and the tenant have the opportunity to give evidence, call witnesses and cross-examine witnesses called by the other party. They should normally be supplied with any documents used as evidence at the hearing. In the case of both written representations and hearings, the Tribunal may decide to inspect the property.

When assessing the rent of assured and assured shorthold tenancies, the Tribunal can require the landlord and the tenant to provide relevant information.[1] Failure to comply is a criminal offence punishable by a fine.

Assessing the rent

In determining the rent, the Tribunal must disregard:[2]

  • that there is a tenant in the property
  • the value of any improvements carried out by the tenant[3]
  • any reduction in the quality of the accommodation resulting from the tenant’s non-tenant-like behaviour[4].

The Tribunal may take into account any notice served on the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy informing the tenant of the possibility of future possession action under grounds 1-5 (the prior notice grounds)[5] as these would limit a tenant’s security and might therefore lead to the fixing of a lower rent.

Comparables

In determining the market rent for the property in question, the Tribunal will look at comparable properties. Such properties may be directly comparable or comparable after an adjustment is made for differentiating factors. For example, where the comparable property has a part-time caretaker and the subject property has none, a percentage deduction from the comparable property’s rent could be applied to take account of this. The Tribunal may disregard properties which it feels are not truly comparable or may amend any adjustment suggested.

Properties can be comparable even where they do not match in terms of factors such as the number of bedrooms. Thus, in some cases, a two-bedroom property could be comparable with a four-bedroom property.[6]

Both landlord and tenant must be given the opportunity to comment on the evidence used by the Tribunal in arriving at its conclusion before the hearing is concluded.[7]

Decisions

The rent which the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) determines will usually be payable from the date which was stated in the notice of increase, unless, in the Tribunal’s opinion, this would cause undue hardship to the tenant.[8]

Rent assessment decisions must be recorded in writing and sent to both the landlord and the tenant. The decision notice must include the Tribunal’s decision, notification of the right to request reasons for the decision, and notification of any appeal rights.

A request for reasons must be made within one month of the date the Tribunal sends the decision notice to the parties.

Appeals against a Tribunal decision

Appeals against a First-tier Tribunal’s decision are made to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber).[9] Applications for appeal must be made within 28 days of the First-tier Tribunal sending written reasons for its decision.[10]

Appeals against decisions of the Upper Tribunal may only be made on a point of law to the Court of Appeal.

The above information applies to England only.

 

[1] s.41 Housing Act 1988.

[2] s.14(2) Housing Act 1988.

[3] Preston v London Rent Assessment Panel & Area Estates Ltd (interested party) [2014] EWHC 1206 (Admin).

[4] North Lincolnshire Homes Ltd v Bentley [2015] UKUT 451 (LC).

[5] Sch.2 Housing Act 1988.

[6] Chehab v Cadogan Estates Ltd [2018] UKUT 282 (LC).

[7] Irwell Valley Housing Association v O’Grady [2015] UKUT 310 (LC).

[8] s.14(7) Housing Act 1988.

[9] Tribunal Procedure (Amendment No. 3) Rules 2013 SI 2013/1188.

[10] reg.52 Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) Rules 2013 SI 2013/1169.

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