Hearings - Residential Property Tribunal
Hearings are open to the public and usually take place in meeting rooms as close to the property concerned as possible. Hearings organised by the London Panel generally take place at the panel offices in central London.
In some circumstances, for example if a person wishing to make representations at a hearing has restricted mobility, hearings can take place at the property itself if the tenant agrees to this. Hearings are kept as informal as possible. Parties can state their own case if they wish or they may be represented by an advocate e.g. friend or relative or professional expert. Committees and Tribunals seek to ensure that both sides have a fair chance to state their case, especially when one party to a case is professionally represented but the other party presents their case in person.
If no party requests a hearing and the Committee or Tribunal considers it to be appropriate, then the case can be determined on consideration of the documents alone without the need for a hearing (a Paper Determination) . However Paper Determinations will usually be suitable for simple cases but there is no reason in principle why they should not also be used for more complicated cases, in particular where, for example, the issues do not involve contested evidence. Where it has been directed that a case can be determined on consideration of the papers alone, the parties will be asked to provide all of the documentation by a specified date. A Committee or Tribunal will then be asked to consider the case. In some circumstances further information may be requested.
RACs do not normally take representations from parties or their representatives during the inspection, although limited exceptions may be made where both parties are present at the inspection and agree to the representations being made. Both parties can draw the Committee’s attention to any physical aspect of the property that they wish.
The tenant has the legal right to refuse the Committee or the landlord access to inspect their property but the Committee may not consider it appropriate to inspect the property where one of the parties has been excluded.
Evidence and representations
Whether at the hearing, or in making written representations, you should point out anything that may have a bearing on the rent that can be determined by the RAC. Parties will have the opportunity to comment on anything the other party has written or said at a hearing. Parties can produce evidence relating to improvements and repairs. It would be helpful if parties could obtain evidence relating to recent tenancies of similar properties in the area such as the rent payable and the condition and type of the property.
Inspections may take place before or after the hearing, and are generally on the same day but may occasionally be on another agreed date.
In both houses and flats the Tribunal will need to inspect both the interior and the exterior of the property and, in the case of flats, also the common areas (e.g. stairways, foyers etc).
Internal inspections can only be made if the tenant or occupier agrees that the Tribunal may enter the property. Landlords and their representatives may attend internal inspections if the tenant agrees. However, they must arrange this with the tenant before the date of the inspection. If the tenant does not agree, the landlord or their representative cannot enter the property.
In the case of Housing Act 2004 disputes, the local housing authority may attend the inspection, but they must arrange this with the owner of the property and also the tenant, if the property is let to a tenant.
In the case of Park Home disputes, inspections may take place before or after the hearing, and are generally on the same day but may occasionally be on another agreed date. Site owners and their representatives may attend the inspection of the park home if the occupier agrees. However, they must arrange this with the occupier before the date of the inspection. If the occupier does not agree, the site owner or their representative cannot enter the park home.
Tribunals do not normally take representations from parties or their representatives during the inspection, although limited exceptions may be made where both parties are present at the inspection and agree to the representations being made.
Evidence and representations
The Tribunal will issue directions shortly after receiving the application. The directions will set out the way the parties should submit and present their evidence to the Tribunal.