Rent officers

This section discusses rent officers, who are employed by local authorities but are under the control of the Scottish Government, and the First Tier Tribunal Housing and Property Chamber.

This content applies to Scotland

Rent offices 

There are local rent offices throughout the country. Each rent office has to maintain a register of rents that contains details of all rent registrations in force. The rent register must be open for public inspection. [1]

First Tier Tribunal inspections

A rent officer hearing is usually informal and any written evidence can be sent in advance or presented on the day. Advisers should check what the normal practice is in their area. For First Tier Tribunal hearings, written evidence sent in advance will be passed to the other party. First Tier Tribunal hearings are more formal than rent officer hearings and a tenant may wish to be represented. In any case, s/he should prepare evidence in advance. If the tenant or her/his adviser wishes to be given written reasons for the committee's decision, these should be requested at the end of the hearing.

Although the rent officer or First Tier Tribunal are not obliged to, they may wish to inspect the property. First Tier Tribunal hearings will often be conducted in the afternoon, allowing the members of the First Tier Tribunal to visit properties in the morning. Rent officers are advised to inspect once every five years unless the landlord or tenant specifically requests an inspection or there has been a change in the condition of the premises. Inspections can take place before or after a rent officer consultation. The landlord may be present at the inspection but the tenant can refuse permission for the landlord to be there if s/he wishes.

Increasing the rent after registration

If the rent increases because of a registration or re-registration, the landlord must serve a notice of increase before the rent can be increased to the new level. The notice must be in the prescribed form and specify the increase and the date from which it will take effect. [2] This date must not be earlier than the date the registration took effect and not more than four weeks before the date on the notice. If no notice of increase is served, the tenant is not obliged to pay more rent and is able to recover amounts of overpaid rent. [3]

Where the rent is increased by the rent officer and is then further increased by the First Tier Tribunal, the landlord must serve a fresh notice of increase.

Re-determinations

Once a fair rent has been registered it cannot generally be reconsidered for a period of three years. After the expiry of the three-year period, either the landlord or the tenant can apply for a new fair rent to be registered. [4] In reality it will usually be the landlord who makes the application for a new fair rent, and s/he can apply during the last three months of the two-year period even though any new increase will not be effective until the three-year period has ended. [5] An application can be made before the expiry of the three-year period where there has been a change in circumstances.

Changes in circumstances

A registered rent can be reconsidered before the expiry of three years on the application of either party if there is a specific change that makes the registered rent no longer a fair rent. The changes must be to:

  • the condition of the property including improvements

  • the terms of the tenancy

  • the quantity, quality or condition of any furniture

  • any other circumstances considered when the rent was registered. [6]

Freedom of Information

Rent officers are subject to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (as amended). For more information about requesting information under the Act, please see the section on Freedom of Information.

Last updated: 14 September 2017

Footnotes

  • [1]

    s.45 Rent (Scotland) Act 1984

  • [2]

    s.32 Rent (Scotland) Act 1984; Rent Regulation (Forms and Information etc) (Scotland) Regulations 1991 SI 1991/1521, as amended by the Rent Regulation (Forms and Information etc) (Scotland) Regulations 1993 SI 1993/647 and the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 (Consequential Amendments) Order 2007 SSI 2007/475

  • [3]

    s.37 Rent (Scotland) Act 1984

  • [4]

    s.46(3) Rent (Scotland) Act 1984

  • [5]

    s.46(4) Rent (Scotland) Act 1984

  • [6]

    s.46(3) Rent (Scotland) Act 1984