Rent Officer Court of Appeal case

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    Kevin D

    Just scan read it – VERY interesting. Especially if you’re a claimant!

    Just one observation: it’s a High Court case; not CA.



    Picky-picky 😀


    Save us a job. What does it mean, in a couple of sentences?

    Something to with “localities”?

    Kevin D

    Martin: Thank you 🙂 . Ohhh – it WASN’T a compliment…. 😯


    A couple of sentences?? 😯 Um……

    Hmmm. Ok.

    In arriving at the LRR, the Rent Service were considering that “locality” was a “[b:f5dd91d9f6]a broad geographical area made up of a number of neighbourhoods with a mix of property types and tenure where a tenant could , as an alternative to the property in question, reasonably be expected to live and benefit from similar amenities[/b:f5dd91d9f6]”.

    Trouble is; the statutory provision makes no mention of the above test, so the R/O was wrong.

    In short, the R/O was applying the wrong tests when assessing the LRR. And to add to the R/S’s glory, they studiously followed guidance and internal memos without considering the legislation. That’s shocking. I mean, LAs would never do that? Would they? 😯

    Ok, so it was more than a couple of sentences, but it’s still a great deal shorter than the judgement…. 😆


    Julian Hobson

    Very interesting on a number of levels. I think we can expect to see some changes, either to the RO order or to the LRR’s we get.

    It isn’t all good news. The judgement recognises that in this case the fact that the whole of sheffield was used in assessing the LRR for this property produced an LRR which was lower than might have been the case if the number of neighbourhoods had been less. By the same token the LRR applicable to the less well off neighbourhoods would be lower because thre more affluent neighbourhoods are excluded.

    Simply put ? :

    If (and it isn’t in fact, but it helps the explanation) LRR is an average of the average rents in each neighbourhood and there are 6 neighborhoods (£100, £90,£80,£70,£60,£50) with and average of £75 the LRR would be £75.

    But the judgement suggests that it might have been more realistic not to include the less affluent areas so taking an average over £100,£90 and £80 giving a new LRR of £90 for the more affluent area.

    But what about the less affluent area, they will no longer benefit from the inclusion of the more affluent area, £70,£60,£50 = average of £60 producing an LRR of £60.

    In practice it is much more complicated but I think this demonstrates the potential effect of the judgement.


    [b:82abb0b84c]”a broad geographical area” [/b:82abb0b84c]Were they getting their procedures ready far too early for the Broad Market Rental Area of LHAs?

    Julian Hobson

    I’ll just qualify what I said earlier. I’ve spoken the the Rent service in Leeds and am told that in their opinion the decision will not affect any areas other than Sheffield !

    I take that to mean that either Sheffield is the only area in the country where TRS actually used the guidance produced centrally to create the LRR and hence the only area that needs to change OR that they don’t believe that the case is binding on any other LRR area (why?).

    Of course this is all in the absence of anything from the centre. I’d appreciate if colleagues could ask their RS for an opinion ? On another note if the only way to get this judgement to apply in other areas is to ultimately take a JR, we will all have LHA by then and so it will be academic.



    I think it clearly affects every Rent service – “What has caused the confusion has been the Rent Service’s misinterpretation of the Order in successive internal circulars within that Service”.

    Secondly, it impacts just as much on LHA in my view. These figures are still calculated by the Rent Service – based on what though? “Show us how you calculate this and what figures / guidance you use” is just as relevant.


    I have read the judgment and agree that it has the potential to affect more areas than just Sheffield.

    The gist of it is that the guidance from central Rent Service HQ to local Rent Officers did not accurately reflect the legislation, in particular the definition of “locality” in that:

    – the guidance leant heavily towards drawing the locality boundaries as widely as possible, whereas the statutory definition could be satisfied by reference to a much smaller area
    – the reason for this was to rig the outcome: the guidance was putting the cart before the horse and striving to achieve lower LRR levels. What should happen is that the locality is drawn up by reference to the legal criteria, and the amount of the LRR flows objectively from that for better or for worse.

    While the specific determinations in the case are in Sheffield, it seems quite likely that other Rent Services will have approached the drawing up of localities in the same way. I know, for example, that there is a single locality covering both Southend and Rochford councils and it seems quite possible that the same criticisms could be made. I have seen Rochford officers on here complaining that their LRR is dragged down by a couple of grotty suburbs of Southend where most of the private tenants are concentrated.

    I found para 78 interesting: the ROs who carried out redeterminations in the Sheffield cases seem to have accepted the pre-drawn localities, which were flawed for the above reasons. The judgment implies that the redetermining officers should have considered the locality afresh as part of the redetermination process. But maybe that’s not such a big issue if there is nothing wrong with the locality in the first place.

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