Rent Officer Handbook: fair rent registration

Fair rent registration: objection

When the landlord or tenant disagrees with the Rent Officer's determination of fair rent.

Late objections

(v1.4 2013)

When the written objection is received after the 28 days limit.

Schedule 11 paragraphs 5A & 6 of The Rent Act 1977 provide the statutory procedure for dealing with objections to registrations of rent.

Schedule 11 (5A):

Where a rent has been registered or confirmed by the Rent Officer under paragraph 3A or 5 above, he shall] notify the landlord and the tenant accordingly by a notice stating that if, within 28 days of the service of the notice or such longer period as he or the appropriate tribunal may allow, an objection in writing is received by the Rent Officer from the landlord or the tenant the matter will be referred to the appropriate tribunal.

There is a statutory time limit of 28 days from the date of registrations stated in Schedule 11 (6) (1) (a).

If it is received within the period of 28 days specified in that paragraph or the appropriate tribunal so direct, the Rent Officer shall refer the matter to the appropriate tribunal;

Schedule 11 (6) (1) (b) provides the procedure where an objection is received outside the statutory period. If it is received after the expiry of that period the Rent Officer may either refer the matter to the appropriate tribunal or seek the directions of the appropriate tribunal whether so to refer it.

The Property Chamber (formerly the Rent Assessment Panel) has agreed that the Rent Officer should use their discretion under Schedule 11 (5A), and accept later objections received after 28 days to allow for postal delays.

The procedure is therefore, objections received after 28 days MUST be dealt with in one of two ways.

  1. They may be accepted by the Rent Officer, or
  2. They may be referred to the Property Chamber, and the First-tier Tribunal (formerly the Rent Assessment Committee) will decide whether or not to accept the late appeal

The Property Chamber has agreed to accept objections received up to 35 days from the date of registration, so these should be accepted under option 1 above. This gives landlords and tenants at least the statutory 28 days and allows for possible postal delays

The Rent Officer cannot take option 2 and ask the First-tier Tribunal to decide whether or not to accept a late objection, and following the tribunal’s decision to reject, and then opt to decide to override the tribunal’s decision and take option 1.

Late objections can never be rejected by the Rent Officer. If the Rent Officer does not accept the late objection under option 1, then they must take option 2 and refer the case to the Property Chamber for them to decide whether or not to accept the late objection.

The Property Chamber are more likely to accept a late objection if they can see a reason for the objection being late. The Property Chamber ask that we obtain and provide a reason for the objection being late if at all possible.

Objection processing

Objections are processed by the Network Support Office (NSO), who will receive all objection requests and enter the objection onto VICTER, and scan the objection letter to the case.

Where the objection has been received significantly more than 35 calendar days after the rent has been registered, the NSO will be alerted to that fact once it is entered on VICTER. The objection letter will be emailed to the RO and the VTM notifying them of the objection request and the fact that it is a “late” request. The NSO will also include the two standard letters that relate to late objections, in order for the Rent Officer to make the decision as to which letter to send. It is important that the Rent Officer clearly indicates which letter should be used. To avoid confusion the letter that is not to be sent to the Tribunal should be deleted from the email back to NSO.

The Rent Officer will need to review the objection letter ensuring that the request is valid as an objection to the registered rent. An objection cannot be entertained where the Rent Officer has registered the rent requested in a joint application, or the objector is objecting to any other part of the register apart from the registered rent itself.

The Rent Officer will then need to decide whether to accept the late objection or refer the matter to the property chamber and first tier tribunal for them to decide whether or not to accept.

If the Rent Officer has reviewed and accepted the late objection, they must respond to the NSO RAP mailbox indicating that the objection is accepted, and should attach to the email any other documentation that they feel is relevant to the case, which NSO will then attach to the case. The Rent Officer should also choose the standard letter “RO accept late objection” and notify the NSO of this decision in their response.

The NSO will then forward the objection paperwork to the relevant Property Chamber office including:

  • the Rent Register entry
  • the registration notification letter (ROSS5)
  • the previous Rent Register entry
  • a survey sheet
  • the Rent Officer’s valuation notes
  • a copy of any tenancy agreement
  • a copy of the current application form (RR1)
  • notes of any consultation for the current case (Which the Rent Officer should already have attached to the VICTER case file)
  • notes of any jurisdictional hearing for the current case (Which the Rent Officer should already have attached to the VICTER case file)
  • any representations received for the current case
  • Any other document used to inform the valuation being objected to (all such documents must be scanned or attached to the VICTER case file)

A checklist detailing all of the above is available from this Handbook.

This course should only be taken if the Rent Officer has good reason to accept the late objection, for example there may have been a delay in the parties receiving the papers, or the parties may have been away due to illness.

Where any of the papers listed above are not available, for example there may not be a recent survey sheet, then the property chamber should be informed that this is the case otherwise the property chamber may make a request for the missing information and that in turn will delay the case unnecessarily.

The second course of action which the Rent Officer may take is to refer the case to the Chamber for a first tier tribunal to decide whether to accept it or not. If following this course, which is often the most likely scenario in the case of a late objection, the Rent Officer must reply to the email received from the NSO advising them of this decision. The Rent Officer should choose the standard letter “First-tier accept late objection”.

The NSO will then issue a letter to the relevant Property Chamber office asking them to make a decision on the late objection.

In such a case copies of the following should be sent with the above letter and the letter of objection to the Chamber:

  • any other reasons why the objection is late
  • the Rent Register entry
  • the registration notification letter (ROSS5)
  • Any other information that the Rent Officer supplies that may help the Chamber decide

If the first tier tribunal decides to accept the late objection the Rent Officer will send them the rest of the standard set of documents.

Decisions are produced and dealt with in the same way for late objections as for other objections.

  • Objections
  • Objections decisions
  • Objections - checklist

Rent Act objection checklist

(V1 2014)

A list of documents to forward to the First-tier Tribunal.

When an objection is received and accepted and a case is remitted to the Property Chamber, the Rent Act Objection checklist should be sent with the paperwork, showing that where possible, all relevant papers have been sent.

The checklist can be found in the “fair rent Forms and Letters” section of the Intranet.

Objection decisions

(v1 2009)

The decision of the First-tier Tribunal under an objection.

Once a decision has been made by a Rent Assessment Committee (RAC or LRAP in London), the clerk of the committee sends a copy of the decision to the Landlord and Tenant (or their agents), and also notifies the Rent Officer of that decision. The decision will either be a confirmation of the Rent Officer’s registered rent, or a new registered rent determined by the committee. There will be a new decision date and effective date supplied.

RAC decisions are now entered onto Victer by the NSO, once the RAC decision is received, it is essential that this information is entered onto Victer immediately and accurately, this is so that there is no possibility that the decision will be missed as this can have significant effects on the Maximum fair rent (MFR) calculation at the next registration. Additionally the new effective date supplied on the RAC decision will affect the timing that a new application for registration can be submitted.

Once the RAC decision has been entered on VICTER, a letter is produced to notify the landlord and tenant (or their agents) that the public register has been updated. There is no requirement for the Rent Officer to also notify the landlord and tenant (or their agents) of the RAC decision, and the updated rent register produced by VICTER is for the public binder only.

Rent Officers should be vigilant, if they discover an RAC decision that is open after a significant period of time, they should contact the clerk of their local RAC to check if a decision has been reached, and the paperwork has gone astray.

Most RAC decisions are now available on-line on the RPTS website.

  • Objections to registered rent
  • Maximum fair rent

Objections

(v2.2 2013)

The process of referring objections to the First-tier Tribunal of the Property Chamber.

There is no right of objection if the landlord and tenant have made a joint application to register the rent, and the Rent Officer has registered the amount requested on the RR1 application.

In all other cases there is a right of objection to the Rent Officer’s decision, and objections are dealt with by the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber), formerly the rent assessment committee ( RAC) which was administered nationally by the Residential Property Tribunal Service. Rent Assessment Committees in England were abolished and replaced by the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) on 1st July 2013. However, Wales is unaffected by these changes as it is outside the jurisdiction of HM Courts and Tribunal Service, so cases will still be dealt with by rent assessment committees in Wales.

Once the Rent Officer has made their decision they must register the rent and notify both landlord and tenant. Rent Officers cannot subsequently “change their mind” and adjust the rent register to take account of second thoughts.

Either party may object to the rent registered by the Rent Officer. Schedule 11 of The Rent Act 1977 requires that the objection must be in writing, and must be made within 28 days of the date of the notice or within any longer period that the Rent Officer or a First-tier Tribunal may allow. VOA policy, agreed with the Property Chamber, is that Rent Officers must automatically accept an objection received up to 35 calendar days after the date of registration. This gives landlords and tenants at least the statutory 28 days and allows for possible postal delays.

Objection processing

Objections are processed by the Network Support Office (NSO), who will receive all objections enter the objection onto VICTER and scan the objection letter to the case.

Once entered on VICTER, the objection letter will be emailed to the Rent Officer and the VTM notifying them of the objection.

The Rent Officer will need to review the objection letter ensuring that the request is valid as an objection to the registered rent. An objection cannot be entertained where the Rent Officer has registered the proposed rent in a joint application, or the objector is objecting to any other part of the register apart from the registered rent itself.

Once the Rent Officer has reviewed and accepted the objection, they must email the NSO RAP mailbox indicating that the objection is accepted, and should attach to the email any other documentation that they feel is relevant to the case which NSO will then attach to the case record.

The NSO will then forward the objection papers to the relevant regional Property Chamber office including a checklist noting which of the following documents are included for each objection:

  • the Rent Register entry
  • the registration notification letter (ROSS5)
  • the previous Rent Register entry
  • a survey sheet
  • the Rent Officer’s valuation notes
  • a copy of any tenancy agreement
  • a copy of the current application form (RR1)
  • notes of any consultation for the current case (which the Rent Officer should already have attached to the VICTER case file)
  • notes of any jurisdictional hearing for the current case (which the Rent Officer should already have attached to the VICTER case file)
  • any representations received for the current case
  • Any other document used to inform the determination (all such documents must be scanned or attached to the VICTER case file)

The checklist detailing all of the above is available from this Handbook.

Where any of the papers listed above are not available, for example there may not be a recent survey sheet, then the Property Chamber should be informed that this is the case otherwise they may make a request for the missing information and that in turn will delay the case unnecessarily.

We refer to objections received after 35 days from the date of registration by the Rent Officer as late objections and these are the subject of a separate Handbook page.

Where the Rent Officer sends to the Property Chamber any details of the lettings information used, it is essential to comply with data protection legislation and ensure no details are included which could identify another individual person or property. This means that the full address and postcode must not be shown on the information sent. Addresses should be limited to a street or road, and postcodes should be limited to the first half of the postcode. For example AB12 3CD would be limited to AB12. Further guidance on how to prepare lettings information for sending out is contained in the Redaction of Lettings Information guidance in this Handbook.

First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber)

The establishment of the Property Chamber took place on 1st July 2013. The Property Chamber replaces RPTS and regional Panels. The Property Chamber is governed by HMCTS (HM Courts and Tribunal Service).

Overall responsibility for tribunals within HMCTS lies with the Senior President. Each Chamber also has its own President. The Property Chamber is divided into three parts reflecting the grouping of the source jurisdictions: Agricultural Land and Drainage; Land Registration; and Residential Property. The Chamber President is also the Principal Judge for Residential Property.

Each region has a Regional Judge and a number of Deputy Regional Judges or Deputy Regional Valuers. The former Panel Presidents and Vice Presidents transferred into these roles.

The tribunals’ objection procedure is similar to that used by the Rent Officer; the parties can request an oral hearing but it will usually be dealt with by way of written representations. The Property Chamber will usually inspect the premises.

Once the Rent Officer refers an objection to a Property Chamber, it cannot be withdrawn unilaterally but only if both parties agree and the Chamber sanctions the withdrawal.

A Property Chamber may only make a decision on the matter referred to it. It cannot consider issues of jurisdiction, other than whether the objection is valid.

After considering the matter the First-tier Tribunal will reach a decision and may either confirm the rent determined by the Rent Officer or, if it does not consider that rent to be fair, the tribunal may determine a fair rent for the tenancy. It will also take into account the Maximum fair rent rules and apply the MFR where necessary as at the date of its decision (NOT the date of the original Rent Officer decision).The Property Chamber then notifies the landlord, tenant and the Rent Officer of its decision. Having received this notification the Rent Officer must indicate in the rent register the rent confirmed or determined by the tribunal.

The date the Property Chamber makes its decision becomes the effective date of the registration and this is noted on the Rent Register.

The Property Chamber publishes copies of any detailed written reasons on its website.

A decision of a First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) is subject to appeal to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber), within 28 days of the issue of the First-tier Tribunal reasons for its decision, although seeking permission to appeal does involve a cost to the appellant. Appeals may be accepted on legal grounds (process and procedure rather than valuation opinion) at the discretion of the Upper Tribunal. When the Upper Tribunal has made its decision, this decision is subject to judicial review.

Once the Property Chamber has come to their decision, they will notify the parties and the NSO directly of their decision. The NSO will then update VICTER with the decision and notify the parties that the public register has been updated.

  • Errors
  • Jurisdiction - deciding jurisdiction
  • MFR
  • Rent Register – notifying the parties
  • Explaining FR valuations
  • Objections – late objections
  • Objections – checklist
  • Judicial review