The Rent Service - what they doLast updated: 28 June 2010 11:01 UK
The role of the Rent Officer
With the introduction of local housing allowance (LHA) on 7th April 2008, the role of the Rent Officer has changed. The Rent Service will no longer be responsible in making a decision whether your rent is reasonable or not for any new claims, change of address or where you have had a break in your entitlement for one week or more (which then commutes you to LHA) on or after 7th April 2008. To read more about LHA please view the local housing allowance page on this website. The Rent Service will continue to decide whether your rent is reasonable, unreasonable (too high) or whether the property is too large for your needs for:
- whenever it receives a notification of a relevant * 'change of circumstances' which occurs during the 52-week period for existing claims made before 7th April 2008; or
- when the 52-week Rent Officers decision period has expired; or
- whenever any new claim (this can be after 7th April 2008) includes any level of board in the rent; or
- the property is a mobile home, caravan or houseboat as these are exempt from LHA; or
- registered rents pre: 15th January 1989
* Examples of relevant 'change of circumstances' can be change in the household composition, a substantial change or improvement in the condition of the property, any young person or child has reached the age of 10 or 16.
When we assess your housing benefit, we are required by law to base your entitlement on the Rent Officer's valuation of whether your rent is reasonable. In some circumstances, the Rent Service may need to visit your home before they can tell us whether your rent is reasonable. If the Rent Service needs to visit your home, they will contact you to make an appointment.
What the Rent Officer takes into consideration
In making a determination the Rent Officer will consider the:
- level of rent
- rent for similar properties within the vicinity
- number of rooms
- age and number of people living within the property being assessed
The determination will usually run for 12 months unless there is a significant change to the property or the number of people included within the household.
Appealing against the Rent Service's decision
If you are not happy with the way the Rent Service assesses your rent, you can appeal. You should write to us within one month of the date on the decision letter and we will ask the Rent Service to look at your case again. The Rent Service can change their assessment, so if you appeal against your rent assessment, you might receive more benefit, but you could also end up with less.