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Tennants, landlords and leaseholders to get improved service from rent assessment panels
Tenants, landlords and leaseholders can look forward to having disputes settled sooner following publication of a Government consultation paper reviewing Rent Assessment Panels in England.
Rent Assessment Panels are quasi-judicial independent bodies. There are currently eight in England. In the 1998-1999 financial year, the panels cost £5.5 million and processed over 14,000 cases.
The main functions of Rent Assessment Panels are:
Rent Assessment Committees to determine "fair rents" (under the Rent Act 1977) where the landlord or tenant has objected to the rent fixed by the rent officer and to determine "market rents" for an assured tenancy (under the Housing Act 1988) on application from a tenant.
Leasehold Valuation Tribunals to resolve various categories of disputes about residential leasehold property. An increasing proportion of their workload involves disputes over valuation where enfranchisement of the freehold and lease renewal is sought, and disputes about service charges, insurance and the appointment of managers.
The review of Rent Assessment Panels is being carried out as part of the Government's requirement that non-departmental public bodies and tribunals should be subject to regular and detailed scrutiny. The review was first announced in DETR's consultation paper on leasehold reform ("Residential Leasehold Reform in England and Wales", DETR Press Notice 1001, 26 November 1998).
In answer to a written question from David Crausby MP (Bolton North East), junior Housing Minister, Chris Mullin, said:
I have today published a consultation paper on a review of Rent Assessment Panels in England, setting out options for improving their organization and management.
Rent Assessment Panels and the committees and tribunals drawn from them, have an important role to play in dealing with fair rent appeals and in resolving disputes between leaseholders and landlords. It is essential they provide an effective service and that it is responsive to the needs of the people who use them.
The consultation paper sets out a range of options aimed at simplifying the process for all parties and reducing the time taken for disputes to be resolved by the tribunals. Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the Library of the House.
Copies of the consultation paper "Rent assessment panels: financial management and policy review", are available from John Heath, DBTR, 2/J6, Bland House, Bressenden Place, London, SW1E 5DU. Tel: 0171 890 3558; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (copies are also available on the DETR web site: http://www.detr.gov.uk/)