Tenant advocacy group Generation Rent has set its sights on preventing landlords from raising rents via Section 13 notices by reforming the Fair Rent tribunal system that underpins them.

The group, which is headed up by Baroness Kennedy and has considerable clout in Whitehall and local authority corridors of power, says its research suggests the whole Fair Rent review system is tipped too much in the favour of landlords.

Research chief Dan Wilson Craw (pictured) says he expects more landlords to turn to Section 13 notices to raise rents once it becomes more difficult to evict tenants when ‘no fault’ Section 21 notices are eventually abolished by the government within its much-anticipated Spring rent reform White Paper.

“If landlords can no longer use the threat of a Section 21 eviction to force tenants to pay a higher rent, we might expect more landlords to use Section 13 notices,” he says.

“This may result in more cases where the tenant has to move because they cannot afford a higher rent – cases that could be thought of as ‘economic evictions’. The Rent Tribunal will in turn become more important.”

With an assured shorthold tenants (AST) tenants can challenge a rent rise if it is ‘significantly higher’ than similar ASTs in the area.

Tribunal decisions

Generation Rent looked at 341 Fair Rent tribunal cases between January 2019 and August 2021 and found that tenants who challenge a rent increase at the Rent Tribunal come away with an average increase of 5.5% per year – much higher than rent inflation in the country, and much higher than most people see their wages increase by.

“This is because the Rent Tribunal bases its decisions on what similar properties to your home are being listed for on the market,” says Craw.

“Without an overhaul of the Rent Tribunal, renters will continue to face unaffordable rent increases and economic evictions after the abolition of Section 21 evictions.

“This is why we argue that alongside efforts to restrict Section 13 notices, improve awareness of the Tribunal and widen accessibility for renters, capping rent increases in tenancies at wage inflation is needed to protect renters from unaffordable rent rises.”

Read the Generation Rent blog in full.

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