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
If you are a tenant, you may pay a service charge to your landlord. This may be one of two charges: a ‘fixed’ service charge, which is fixed by the landlord according to the landlord’s own estimates and costs; or a ‘variable’ service charge, which is a charge that the landlord can alter depending on costs incurred, but it must give you notice of the variation. Your tenancy agreement should specify what, if any, service charge you pay.
If you believe a fixed service charge is too high, you may be able to have it assessed by the Tribunal in relation to overall rent. Applications about the reasonableness or increase of a variable service charge may also be considered by the Tribunal. For more information, go to: https://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/tribunals/residential-property/rent-assessment-guidance.pdf
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 or a solicitor. You may be able to apply to the Tribunal for it to decide the reasonableness or increase of service charges. For more information about this, go to https://www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/residential-property#leasehold