Rent assessment committees
The Rent Assessment Committee is a tribunal of two or three persons set up by law under the provisions of the Rent Act 1977. They deal with disputes about fair rent and market rent.
The jurisdiction of a rent assessment committee is conferred by the following Acts:
- The Rent Act 1977 (RA 1977)
- The Housing Act 1988, and
- The Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (this is not an exhaustive list).
The regulations governing the tribunal are Rent Assessment Committees (England and Wales) Regulations 1971
Rent assessment Committees are established under section 65 of, and Schedule 10 to, RA 1977.
The Committee determines what is a fair rent for a property following an objection either by the landlord or the tenant to a Rent Officer’s decision.
Section 70 of the RA 1977 requires a Rent Officer or Committee to have regard to the following factors when deciding fair rent at a property:
- The age, character, locality and state of repair of the property
- The quantity, quality and condition of any furniture provided under the tenancy.
Amongst various other steps, the Committee will consider whether the notional market rent is to be adjusted to reflect any tenant improvements that have been made to the property (other than those required by the tenancy agreement). They will also need to consider the ‘scarcity element’. This is applicable where the Committee consider the following is satisfied;
- that the number of people seeking to become tenants of similar dwelling houses in the locality, on the same terms - other than rent – as that of the tenancy of the subject property, substantially exceeds the number of such dwelling houses available for letting; and
- that the shortage has pushed the comparable market rental values above what they would otherwise have been.
The Court of Appeal has held that section 70 provides that a fair rent is the notional market rent for the subject property less the “scarcity element” (if any).
Once a decision has been made the Clerk will write to the parties enclosing a decision notice that tells them the rent fair rent that has been determined by the Committee and explaining the capping calculation.
A party can appeal to the Upper (Lands Chamber) Tribunal under s65A of the RA 1977 but only if the party considers that the Committee has made a mistake of law.
Parties to an application are entitled to the benefit of the provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998.
All decisions by the Residential Property Tribunals are open to the public.
Application forms and guidance can also be found on their website.
The Committee also looks at circumstances where a landlord under an assured or assured shorthold periodic tenancy has served a notice on a tenant proposing a rent increase. Application forms and guidance can be found on the Residential Property Tribunal website.
Section 65A of the RA 1977 provides that an appeal on any point of law from a decision of a Rent Assessment Committee constituted under Schedule 10 to that Act may be made to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber). The Rent Assessment Committees (England and Wales) Regulations 1971 set out the procedures to be followed.