Below is a checklist of questions that Rent Officers should ask themselves when dealing with first time registrations, and cases where an application has not been received for over 5 years.
○ Why has the case not attracted an application to register before?
n There may be something to indicate that the case may have been registered before, such as a comment on a letter accompanying the application, so ensure the application really is a first time application.
○ Did the tenancy start after 15th January 1989?
n If the tenancy began after 15/1/89 it may be an Assured Tenancy and not eligible for registration. However it may be the same tenant of the previous landlord in which case protection may be carried forward to a new tenancy. If in any doubt, contact the guidance helpdesk.
○ For shared ownership, did the tenancy start after 10th December 1987?
n In shared ownership cases the date after which protection was no longer afforded is different from other Rent Act cases – if the tenancy started after 10/12/87 then it may not be protected.
○ For agricultural, did the occupation commence after 15th January 1989?
n The important date for Agricultural cases is the date the occupation of the property started, which is often when the employment started too, and this must be prior to 15/1/89.
○ Does Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 apply?
n The tenancy may be a full repairing lease, or exempt from Section 11 by virtue of being a lease for a term of 7 years or more. Ensure the notation on the register is appropriate.
○ Do we have a copy of the tenancy agreement?
n For cases which are outside of Section 11, it is useful to see a copy of the agreement if at all possible. Then the contractual obligations may be fully reflected in the determination and in particular the Section 70 disregards.
Section 70 determination;
○ Suitable open market comparable rent?
n Ensure the closest comparable possible is used, or an opinion of a suitable open market rent is extrapolated from available evidence. If outside the range of the LI search, add a case note to explain why this was felt to be appropriate.
○ State of repair?
n Ensure the state of repair of the property is fully accounted for in relation to the state of repair of the open market comparable figure.
○ Tenant’s improvements or disrepair to disregard?
n Of course, any improvements carried out by the tenant under the tenancy, outside their contractual obligations, and similarly any disrepair caused by the tenant neglecting their contractual obligations, are all disregarded for the purposes of the rent officer’s determination under section 70.
Rent Officers may wish to seek guidance where;
● The property had been subject to a long lease (21 years) which has come to an end
● Where the landlord had been, or is a Crown Property or Government Agency
● The landlord is a Housing Co-operative or similar mutual organisation
● The property had been subject to a Protected Shorthold Tenancy prior to 15/01/ 89
● The tenant had originally been part of a joint tenancy with the same landlord prior to 15/01/89
○ Why has it been so long between registrations?
n Has there been a change of landlord, or has the landlord simply not pursued a rent increase? Ensure that the tenancy started prior to the last registration, and that this not a new tenancy.
○ Is it the same tenant name?
n Has there been a succession?
● If you have the old tenancy start date but a new tenant name, the case may have been subject to a successor or an assignment, or the original tenant may have simply changed their name. The rent officer must satisfy themselves that the named tenant has the protection of the Rent Acts and is eligible for a registered rent.
n Has there been an assignment?
● If the tenancy start date looks incorrect and/or there is a new tenant name, the tenancy may have been assigned. This is common amongst some Housing Associations, and all the necessary details should be checked to ensure the named tenant has Rent Act protection.
Is it the correct associated case?
○ Check all contact addresses etc.
n Ensure the address on the RR1 matches exactly the address on the previous register entry. If there is any difference it may indicate a different property. Also check the contact addresses to ensure all notices are correctly served.
Is it exempt from MFR?
○ Works carried out since last registration?
n Where a number of years have elapsed since the last registration it becomes more likely that;
● Works have been carried out by the landlord, whether maintenance or repairs or improvements, and
● The value is more likely to reach the 15% threshold of the passing rent, as the passing rent is likely to be relatively low.
If these 2 conditions are met the case will not be capped by the Maximum Fair Rent Order, as it will be exempt.
Is the correct registration notation on the system?
○ Property description?
n Make sure the property is still as described last time. If not then double check.
○ Repair liability?
n Ensure the repair liability is as described last time. If not then double check.
n Ensure the services are correctly registered as fixed/variable and that this matched the last registration. If not then double check.
● Repair liability
● Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976 applications
● Variable services
● Valuation pages