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How to challenge a rent increase

You may be able to challenge a rent increase by a private landlord at the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber).

What is 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
  • fair rent determination made by a rent officer if you are a regulated tenant
  • excessive rent if you are an assured shorthold tenant in the first 6 months of your tenancy

Risk of eviction if you apply to the tribunal

Before you take any action, consider if your landlord could take steps to evict you for challenging a rent increase through a tribunal.

It is usually quite straightforward for your landlord to evict you if you are an assured shorthold tenant. They do not need a legal reason but they must follow the proper eviction procedures.

If you are an assured or regulated tenant it is much harder for your landlord to evict. They will need a legal reason, for example rent arrears.

Get advice first if you are not sure whether to apply to a tribunal. 

Use Shelter's directory to find an advice centre in your area.

How to challenge a proposed rent increase

If you are a periodic assured or assured shorthold tenant, your landlord can serve you with a legal notice proposing a new rent for the tenancy. This is called a section 13 notice.

The section 13 notice is a special form - the landlord can use Form 4 on or give you a notice that contains the same information.

The notice sets out the:

  • proposed new rent
  • 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

Download the form (Rents 1) and guidance leaflet T540 from HM Courts and Tribunal Service

Things to consider before appealing

  1. The tribunal might not consider your appeal if you start paying the new rent.
  2. Your landlord may take steps to evict you if you are an assured shorthold tenant.
  3. Many tenants represent themselves - an adviser or solicitor can help you but there is no legal aid for this. 
  4. The tribunal looks at market rents for similar properties in the area - there is a risk that they will impose a higher rent than the landlord is asking for.
  5. A rent set by the tribunal will be binding for 1 year (if you remain in the property).    

How to challenge a fair rent determination (regulated tenants)

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 and it can't usually be reconsidered for a period of two years. There are exceptions.

Find out more about rent and rent increases.

You or your landlord can object to the fair rent assessment by the rent officer by writing to them within 28 days of their decision. The rent officer then refers the case to the tribunal to decide the fair rent.

Find out more from about regulated tenancies.

Excessive rent (assured shorthold tenants)

In the first 6 months of an assured shorthold tenancy, you can apply to the tribunal for the rent to be lowered if you can show the rent is excessive.

This only applies to the first 6 months of the first contract in your home. You cannot apply if you later renew the tenancy.

An 'excessive' rent is one that is significantly higher than rents for similar properties in the area.

There is a risk that your landlord will take steps to evict you if you apply to the tribunal. 

What happens at the hearing

There will only be a hearing if you or your landlord ask for an oral hearing. 

If there is no hearing the tribunal makes its decision on the basis of the documents and evidence it receives.  

Hearings usually take place reasonably close to your home.

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 with your permission.

Hearings are open to the public, but aren't usually attended by anyone other than you, landlords and representatives.

Tribunal decisions

Once the tribunal has all the information it needs, it makes its decision, usually within a few days of the hearing or inspection.

Written confirmation of the decision is sent to both you and your landlord.

The decision is binding on both you and your landlord.

Appeals against a first-tier tribunal decision

Get advice from a specialist housing adviser or solicitor if you are unhappy with a first-tier tribunal decision.

There may be ways to challenge the decision, for example by appealing to the upper tribunal. Use Shelter's directory to find an advice centre in your area or use the Legal Adviser Finder to find a solicitor.

Last updated 12 May 2016 | © Shelter

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