Fair rent detemination?

Fair rent detemination?

8:39 AM, 29th April 2022, About 2 months ago 5

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I have a tenant who’s been on Housing benefits since April 2005. The council have stated that his claim and the eligible rent used in the calculation is decided with regard to October Deregulated tenancies and any rent increase must be referred to the Rent Officer (HB regulations 2006 regulation 13). The Council have stated that this is reviewed every 52 weeks in June each year.

I am looking to increase his rent so it makes sense to know what the ‘cap’ is. He is a lovely long term older tenant (no family) so I am only looking to increase the rent to the maximum determined fair rent rate. I don’t want to raise it to anything over this, where he then stresses about top-ups etc.

Unlike LHA, I am having great difficulty finding out what this figure actually is. Having asked the council directly they have avoided replying to this part of my question, but I would have thought that this information should be in the public domain. All I have managed to find (even via the abysmal Shelter website) is the explanation of the mechanics of the fair rent determination process, not where to find the actual rent figure.

Are the Council obliged to give me this info? Where else can I find it?

DSR



Comments

Robert Mellors View Profile

12:10 PM, 29th April 2022, About 2 months ago

What's their tenancy start date? I believe that if they are a protected tenant (tenancy started before some date in 1989) then the "fair rent" provisions would apply, but for assured shorthold tenancies (started from 1989 onwards) then the Local Housing Allowance provisions would apply (which can be found on the LHA Direct website: https://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/search.aspx ). I believe that for assured shorthold tenancies then the LHA rate would be considered to be a fair rent, as it is already well below the "market rent".

If your tenant is in receipt of full housing benefit, then he would normally be entitled to the LHA rate applicable to his circumstances, in which case if you set the AST rent at this LHA amount then there would be no "top up" required, and thus nothing for him to be worried about.

DSR

14:03 PM, 1st May 2022, About 2 months ago

Tenancy started 1 July 2004 and he has been receiving HB continusly since 2005

You describe exactly what I thought as an AST then the LHA rate would apply so if I raised it to this max then no top ups would apply.

Seems the LA have their knickers in a twist about the rent increase I requested and have deemed that it is subject to a rent office valuation. I've just batted it back to them in light of your info.

Looks like they may have wrongly categorised his tenancy as a 'regulated one' when clearly it is not and are trying to apply a fair rent rule.

Wondering now if I have a case for backdated rent owed up to the LHA rate level, as a result of them applying a fair rent system when they should not have at all?

DSR

11:41 AM, 3rd May 2022, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Robert Mellors at 29/04/2022 - 12:10
Robert....can you advise?

Tenancy started 1 July 2004 and he has been receiving HB continusly since 2005

I have just had a reply from the LA, as I responded to them with the details as you outlined.

For Housing Benefit purposes tenancies from;
Before 15.01.1989 are regulated tenancies and no referral required
Continuously in receipt of HB on or before 01.01 1996 – deregulated tenancies – old scheme rules and excluded from referral to Rent Officer
Claim made between 02.01.1996 and 05.10.1997 – new scheme that replaced deregulated and rent referral required
Claim made between 06.10.1997 and 06.04.2008 – new scheme that replaced new deregulated and removed 50% taper of Local Reference rent – rent referral required
Claim made on/after 07.04.2008 = current Local Housing Allowance rules – no referral

This just baffles me! Even on the Shelter website it says 'fair rent' and use of Rent officer is only used where tenancies before 1989 which can be referred to as 'Regulated tenancies' are subject to the fair rent system.

Anyone else ever come across this to advise?

Robert Mellors View Profile

14:47 PM, 3rd May 2022, About 2 months ago

I'm not a legal advisor so don't take my word for it, but I think the confusion is perhaps your use of the term "fair rent". The provisions relating to "fair rent" I believe relate to the protected tenancies (i.e. regulated tenancies, those started prior to 1989).

The tenancy you are referring to, I believe, would be an AST where the rent is referred to a rent officer for determination of the maximum rent for HB purposes. This is not the same as a "fair rent" determination.

Instead of worrying about this, why don't you just issue a new AST at the LHA level. As it is then a new AST (not a s13 rent increase on an old AST), presumably the LHA rate would apply. Even if I am wrong on this, and for some bizarre reason it still had to go for a rent officer determination, you could still demonstrate that the rent was fair and reasonable and below the market rent.

If you want an expert opinion on this, rather than my non-expert personal opinion, then I would recommend Bill Irvine at UC Advice as he has decades of experience relating to the HB regulations so will know the finer details of the HB determinations.

DSR

20:31 PM, 3rd May 2022, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Robert Mellors at 03/05/2022 - 14:47
thanks Robert - I might just drop Bill an email.

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