Rent Officer Handbook - FR-Withdrawals

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FR Withdrawals v2.1 2015

Application

FR Withdrawals v2.1 2015

When an application is made for registration of fair rent, there is an expectation that if jurisdiction has been accepted by the rent officer, the registration process will be completed and a rent register will be produced.

An application for registration of rent may only be withdrawn by the applicant if they decide that they no longer want to proceed with the application. For example, where improvement works are being completed on a property the landlord may decide to withdraw the application and wait until the works are completed.

Whilst there is no statutory process for this withdrawal process, the authority in case law comes from R. v Hampstead and St. Pancras Rent Tribunal ex parte Goodman (1951) which held that applications to Rent Tribunals could be withdrawn. The Rent Officer has the same legal status as a Rent Tribunal.

The essential points in case law were made by Lord Denning in Hanson v. Church Commissioners for England and The London Rent Assessment Panel (1978). They are:-

1. There is no automatic right of withdrawal

2. The other party must agree, or at least not object to the withdrawal

3. But even then, the Rent Officer may proceed with an application if it is in the public or private interest.

Where there was a public interest in the dispute, Denning considered that it may not be permissible for one of the parties to withdraw without the assent of the other and even then, without the consent of the tribunal.

If the applicant wishes to withdraw their application, they must do this in writing and then the RO must notify the non-applicant – who may still wish the application to proceed. If they agree to the application being withdrawn, then the RO is likely to agree to the withdrawal. In doing so, the RO must be satisfied that natural justice is being preserved for both parties. Even after a withdrawal has been accepted, both parties retain the right to make a fresh application to have the rent registered at any time
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There is no specific requirement to provide reasons in the request or objection to withdrawal, but the Rent Officer should make such enquiries as are necessary to be satisfied that there is no public or private interest element in both parties agreeing to withdrawal, and the Rent Officer putting that withdrawal into effect.

An example of where the Rent Officer may not effect the withdrawal would be if the RO believed that the landlord had pressurised the tenant into withdrawing the application or agreeing to its withdrawal, and withdrawing the application may put the tenant at a disadvantage.

To withdraw the case on VICTER the “FR Request Withdrawal” option should be used which is only available on the Decide Action for Case screen. The case does not need to be “next stepped” prior to the withdrawal. This then produces letters that are sent to the parties, notifying them of the request to withdraw the case.

Whilst Schedule 11 of the Rent Act 1977 does not provide any guidance as to the process or timescales to be followed for withdrawals, established practice is that the RO should then wait 14 days for any representations from the parties to be received. If no objection to the withdrawal is received from the non-applicant within that time, the RO should continue to complete the withdrawal of the application.

Where an objection to the withdrawal from the non-applicant is received within 14 days then the RO should consider their objection and decide whether or not there are reasonable grounds to continue with the case. The RO may consider that the non-applicant is disadvantaged by allowing the withdrawal to continue. An example of this may be where the condition of the dwelling has deteriorated since the last registration was carried out, and the rent could be registered at a lower amount if the application was allowed to proceed.

The case must be withdrawn on VICTER using the “FR Request Withdrawal” function as this allows the correct letters to be served avoiding other errors. This procedure should not be confused with the “withdrawal” function on VICTER which the RO should use when rejecting jurisdiction.

An RO can reject jurisdiction any time up until registration and it can be for a number of reasons. A common reason is where it is discovered at a later date that the tenant is the son/daughter of the original tenant meaning they are not able to succeed to the tenancy, so it cannot be regulated.

In order to reject a case on this basis the “withdraw” and “no jurisdiction” option on VICTER should be selected which produces letters for the parties. It is important that the two functions on VICTER are not confused as one is a formal request to withdraw the application by the applicant and the other is the RO’s decision to reject jurisdiction.

Related pages:

● All jurisdiction pages

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