When a private tenant can challenge a rent increase or excessive rent at the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber).
Appeals to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber)
The First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) deals with appeals on a range of disputes relating to property and land. It is often called the Residential Property Tribunal.
The tribunal can deal with appeals against:
- a rent increase if you are an assured or assured shorthold tenant
- excessive rent if you are in the first 6 months of an assured shorthold tenancy
- a fair rent determination made by a rent officer if you are a regulated tenant
What happens at the hearing
An oral hearing is only held if you or your landlord ask for one. Hearings usually take place reasonably close to your home. Hearings are open to the public, but are usually only attended by you, your landlord or legal representatives.
Many tenants represent themselves. An adviser or solicitor can help you but legal aid is not available.
Both you and your landlord have the opportunity to give evidence, call witnesses and question each other.
The tribunal members could ask to inspect your home. The inspection is usually on the same day as the hearing. The landlord is usually allowed to be present if you give permission.
If there is no hearing the tribunal decides the case based on the documents and evidence it receives.
The tribunal usually makes its decision within a few days of the hearing or inspection, when it has all the information it needs. The tribunal looks at market rents for similar properties in the area.
The tribunal can set a rent that is higher, lower or the same as the rent the landlord asks for. The rent set by the tribunal will be binding for 1 year if you remain in the property.
The tribunal sends written confirmation of the decision to both you and your landlord.
The tribunal's decision is binding on both you and your landlord.
You may be able to challenge a first-tier tribunal decision, for example by appealing to the upper tribunal.
Get advice from a specialist housing adviser or solicitor:
- use Shelter's directory to find an advice centre in your area
- use the Gov.uk Legal Adviser Finder to find a solicitor.
Risk of eviction
Most private tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy. For this type of tenancy, your landlord only has to follow the correct procedure for eviction.
It is much harder for you to be evicted if you are an assured or regulated tenant. These are older tenancy types.
How to challenge a proposed rent increase
For most private tenants, your landlord can serve you with a legal notice proposing a new rent for the tenancy. This is called a section 13 notice.
It can be used if you have an assured shorthold tenancy or have a periodic assured tenancy.
The section 13 notice is a special form - the landlord can use Form 4 on Gov.uk or give you a notice that contains the same information.
The notice sets out the proposed new rent and the start date of the rent increase.
You can appeal to the tribunal if you don't accept the proposed increase.
To appeal you must:
- complete a special form to refer the rent to the tribunal
- provide a copy of the section 13 notice
- make sure that your application is received by the regional tribunal office before the date in the section 13 notice
You can download HM Courts and Tribunal Service form (Rents 1) and guidance leaflet T540.
How to challenge excessive rent
You can apply to the tribunal for the rent to be lowered if you can show the rent for an assured shorthold tenancy is excessive.
An 'excessive' rent is one that is significantly higher than rents for similar properties in the area.
You must apply in the first 6 months of the assured shorthold tenancy. You cannot apply if you later renew the tenancy.
How to challenge a fair rent determination
You are probably a regulated tenant if your private tenancy started before 15 January 1989.
If you have a regulated tenancy with a private landlord, you or your landlord can apply for a fair rent to be set by a rent officer at the Valuation Office Agency.
Once a fair rent has been registered:
- your landlord can't charge you more than the fair rent
- it can't usually be reconsidered for a period of two years (there are exceptions)
You or your landlord can object to the fair rent assessment by the rent officer. You must write to the rent officer within 28 days of the decision. The rent officer then refers the case to the tribunal to decide the fair rent.
Still need help?
Find out more about rent and rent increases.
Last updated 12 May 2016 | © Shelter
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