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Fair rent and regulated tenancies - private renting
A tenancy may be a 'regulated tenancy' if it started before 15 January 1989. If so, you can apply to register a 'fair rent' - the maximum rent amount that can be charged. Find out about fair rent, and how you can object to or cancel a rent registration.
What is a fair rent and how to register it
Whether you are a landlord or tenant, you may have a regulated tenancy if the agreement was made before 15 January 1989. If so, the tenant or landlord can apply at any time for a fair rent to be registered. Once it is registered, this is the maximum amount that the landlord can charge until the rent is reviewed or cancelled. A fair rent is generally much lower than the rent that could be charged for a similar new tenancy.
How you can register a fair rent
You should contact the rent officer at the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and complete the form they send you. This includes suggesting what you think the rent should be. The landlord and tenant will both receive a copy of the application, regardless of who sent it in.
To decide on a fair rent, the rent officer will check your property - unless it has been inspected in the last five years and has not changed much since. They may also arrange a consultation with you to get your opinion.
You will receive a 'certificate of fair rent' for the property after the fair rent is registered.
If you have questions or need a fair rent application, you can call the VOA Helpline on 08450 26 46 96.
How a fair rent is calculated
When deciding the amount to register as a fair rent, the rent officer will consider the:
- property's age, character, location and condition
- quantity, quality and condition of any furniture provided
The rent officer will ignore:
- disrepair the tenant has caused to the property
- unnecessary improvements made
- personal circumstances of both the landlord and tenant
The rent officer must assume that the rent would not be forced up by excessive demand for similar property in the area.
If a fair rent has previously been registered, there is a limit to how much the rent officer can increase it. This is called the Maximum Fair Rent. It is a complicated formula that uses information on the change in the Retail Prices Index since the fair rent was registered.
Objecting to a fair rent assessment
As a landlord or tenant, you can object to the fair rent that the rent officer has registered.
You cannot object to the fair rent if the amount was agreed by you both and you applied jointly.
The objection will be examined by a Rent Assessment Committee (RAC) who can decide to register a new amount (either higher or lower) or keep the amount as originally suggested.
Cases are decided on an individual basis without either of you in attendance. However, you can request a meeting with the RAC to solve the problem in person if you prefer.
How to cancel or change a fair rent registration
You cannot cancel or change a registered fair rent until at least two years have passed since it was registered. However, you can register a new fair rent before two years have passed if any of the following apply:
- you both agree and apply jointly
- the property has changed significantly
- your tenancy agreement has been changed significantly - for example, how the rent is to be paid, or when it is payable
Changing a registered fair rent
You should apply to the rent officer for a specific cancellation form which you should complete and return. Both the landlord and the tenant should send the new rent agreement with the form to the rent officer.
The rent officer will cancel the previously registered fair rent if they believe the new agreed rent is fair. Their decision is final and you will not be able to appeal to the Rent Assessment Committee if the new rent is rejected.
The landlord or tenant can then apply for the new agreed rent to be registered as soon as the cancellation of the old registered rent is confirmed. However, the new rent cannot start less than two years after the effective date of the existing registration.
Increasing or reducing rent for regulated tenancies
A fair rent remains in effect until a new registration is made or the existing registration is cancelled. You can apply to the rent officer to register a new fair rent to take effect two years after the previous registration. If the new registered fair rent is lower than that paid previously, the landlord must reduce the rent. If the new registered fair rent is higher than paid previously, the landlord can increase the rent up to this new amount.
Rent increases where a fair rent has not been registered or has been cancelled
The landlord can increase the rent if there is no fair rent registered - or the registered fair rent has been cancelled - and the tenancy agreement allows it.
If the tenancy agreement does not mention rent increases, rent can only be increased if either the:
- landlord and tenant make a formal rent agreement
- the rent officer registers a fair rent for the property
Even if they enter into a rent agreement, the landlord and tenant still have the right to apply to the rent office for a fair rent to be registered at any time.