Reply To: Rent regulator policy statement on rents for social housing

Peter Barker

Para 2.17 prohibits catch-up rent increases for existing tenants whose rent is less than the formula and/or has not been increased or increased by less than the maximum allowed in previous years. They can’t say “because you’ve been paying less than we could have charged you for the past five years, we are increasing your rent by 60% this year to what it would have been if we had charged the maximum possible in past years”.

They can only do that when a new tenant moves in.

The reference to rent periods beginning in 2023/24 is something different. The significance of 23/24 is that any scheduled rent increase falling in that period is limited to 7% for general needs properties even though last September’s CPI was higher. “Rent period” means the period over which a certain rent is payable – not necessarily a new tenancy, just a new rent following an increase.

I would resist the temptation to do the regulator’s job. As you can see from para 2.18, a rent above the limit is not necessarily unlawful, it’s just that they have to slowly phase it back within the limit. I wouldn’t look at the formula as if it is a tenancy condition – consequences for failing to abide by the formula are more at the organisational level than the individual landlord/tenant level.