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Registration of fair rents

This content applies to England

How to apply for registration of a fair rent.

As with any tenancy entered into by a landlord and tenant, the terms of the contract apply initially, including any agreement as to the rent. Following this either the landlord or the tenant has the right to apply for a fair rent to be registered for the property. The Rent Act 1977 contains the statutory guidance about fair rents.

Application

An application to fix a fair rent must be made to the rent officer. It can be made by the tenant or her/his landlord or jointly by both parties. An application by one of a number of joint tenants will be invalid unless s/he has authority to apply on behalf of the others.[1]

The application, on the form prescribed by regulations,[2] must state the amount of proposed rent. Application forms are available from the Valuation Office Agency in England or from the Welsh Assembly Government in Wales.

The rent officer

The rent officer will set a fair rent and s/he must hold a consultation if either party requests it; both are entitled to be represented at it. Rent officers are advised to inspect once every five years unless the landlord or tenant specifically requests an inspection or there has been a change in the condition of the premises. Inspections can take place before or after a rent officer consultation.

Appealing against the decision

If either party is unhappy with the rent officer's decision, s/he can object to it by writing to the rent officer within 28 days of receiving the decision.[3] The rent officer will then pass the objection and background details to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to deal with by way of a hearing (for more information see the page on Rent assessment).

The rent officer must tell each side about an objection. Legal aid is not available for representation at the Tribunal hearing as it is a tribunal, not a court. The High Court has statutory powers to review Tribunal decisions by way of judicial review.

Advisers should make their clients aware that in many cases where tenants refer fair rents fixed by rent officers to the Tribunal, the rent is increased above the level set by the rent officer.

A registered rent can take effect from the date of registration by the rent officer.[4] Where the Tribunal sets the rent, it takes effect from the date of the committee's decision.[5] The fair rent applies to the premises, not the tenancy, so long as it is let on a protected tenancy. If the form of occupation changes, for example an assured tenancy is created, the fair rent will not apply to the occupier.

[1] R v Rent Officer for Camden LBC ex parte Felix (1988) 21 HLR 34.

[2] Rent Act 1977 (Forms, etc) Regulations 1980 SI 1980/1697, as amended.

[3] paras 5A and 6, Sch. 11, Rent Act 1977, as

[4] s.72(1)(a) Rent Act 1977.

[5] s.72(1)(b) Rent Act 1977.

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