What issues can the Housing Ombudsman consider?
If you disagree with the level of rent or service charge you are paying, or the amount of a rent or service charge increase, it is unlikely that we will be able to investigate your complaint, but there are other organisations that may be able to help or advise you (see below under Concerns about the level of rent).
We may be able to investigate your complaint if it is about the collection of rents or service charges, their calculation or how this information was communicated, rather than the level of charge itself. Examples of the types of issues we may consider include accounting errors, communication, and application of refunds.
If you have a concern about a charge and you are unsure if we can consider your complaint, contact us to discuss your complaint in more detail.
Concerns about the level of rent
If you are a tenant, and you want to query the level of your rent or the amount it has risen by you may be to apply to the First-Tier Tribunal – Property Chamber (Residential Property) to have this decided. However, it is important to remember that the Tribunal may decide to put the rent up if they think it is lower than comparable properties in the area. Contact the Tribunal for more information.
If you are a leaseholder or shared owner, the level and frequency of rent increases should be detailed in your lease agreement. For advice about your lease you could contact the Leasehold Advisory Service.
Concerns about the level of service charge
Variable service charges
A variable service charge is a charge that the landlord can alter depending on costs incurred, but it must give you notice of the variation.
Your tenancy agreement or lease should specify what, if any, service charge you pay. If you are a leaseholder or shared owner and you have concerns about the level of service charges you pay, you could contact the Leasehold Advisory Service.
Applications about the reasonableness or increase of a variable service charge may also be considered by the First Tier Tribunal. For more information about this, go to https://www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/residential-property#leasehold
Fixed service charges
A fixed service charge is set by the landlord at the start of the year based on its own estimates and costs.
Fixed charges are set out in line with the lease or tenancy agreement. Fixed charges do not vary and therefore cannot be referred to the First Tier Tribunal for a decision on whether they are reasonable. As fixed service charges are a contractual obligation between the landlord and the tenant or leaseholder any dispute in respect of the level or reasonableness of the charge should be referred to the court.