26 July 2022 by

The First Tier Tribunal Property Chamber – residential property

The First Tier Tribunal Property Chamber (Residential Property Chamber) is quite a mouthful so, in this article, we refer to it simply as the ‘Tribunal’.  The Tribunal deals with broad-ranging landlord and tenant matters including leasehold disputes, rent increases and leasehold enfranchisement, to list a few.

Both the Court and the Tribunal have jurisdiction to deal with leasehold disputes.  However, in most cases, it may be preferable for the case to be dealt with in the Tribunal because:

  • Tribunal judges and members are experts in the field
  • The procedure in the Tribunal is far more fast-paced
  • The Tribunal Rules promote flexibility and are less rigid in comparison to the Civil Procedure Rules governing proceedings in Civil Courts
  • The Tribunal environment is semi-formal
  • The Tribunal fees are usually cheaper than the County Court’s fees

Commencing proceedings in the Tribunal

Proceedings in the Tribunal are initiated once the applicant (the party bringing the action) completes the relevant application and lodges this with the Tribunal, together with the fixed fee of £100.

There is an application for each issue a party wants determined by the Tribunal.  Once the application has been lodged, together with the appropriate fee, the Tribunal will notify the opposing party who will become the respondent in the proceedings.

Where the application is lodged, and the matter proceeds to hearing, the applicant will be required to pay a fixed hearing fee of £200 within 14 days of being notified by the Tribunal. Failing to pay the hearing fee by the Tribunal’s deadline may result in the application being deemed as withdrawn. There is no hearing fee payable for applications determined on paper (without an oral hearing).

As a part of its case management duties, the Tribunal may request a Case Management Conference to establish the issues to be decided and to agree the timetabling of the case.  If or once the Tribunal is satisfied with the issues to be determined, it will issue Directions. The Tribunal’s Directions will provide each party will obligations in preparing its evidence in support of its case and the general conduct of the case.

The Tribunal hearing

The hearing will usually commence after an inspection of the development and/or property by the Tribunal panel members and the parties to the proceedings.  Following the inspection, the parties will proceed to the appropriate Tribunal venue for the hearing to commence.  The Tribunal environment is semi-formal but will follow a procedure set out by the Tribunal.  Members of the Tribunal panel will have a copy of the applicant’s bundle, and the respondent’s response, and may ask questions of any of the parties in attendance to assist its determination of the case.

The decision

Unlike the Court, the Tribunal will not issue an Order prior to the close of the hearing. The Tribunal’s decision will be posted to each party at least 6 weeks after the hearing. Again, unlike some Court Orders, the Tribunal decision is very lengthy and explains how and why the Tribunal reached its decision.

If you have any questions about landlord and tenant disputes, please contact Hansel Ariburun in our Real Estate Disputes team.

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