The Residential Property Tribunal Service or RPTS as it is often known currently incorporates Rent Assessment Committees, Leasehold Valuation tribunals (LVTs) and Residential Property Tribunals. These are all quasi judicial bodies who have been given powers to determine various disputes relating to property under various legislation.
RPTS is the umbrella organization covering the 5 regional panels each of which has a President and a number of Vice Presidents who determine which members will hear disputes. Generally for each Tribunal or Committee a panel of 2 or 3 members are appointed to deal with each case. The panel will consist of a Chair (usually a lawyer or valuer) and 1 or 2 other members who may be lawyers, valuers or lay members. All members are specifically trained to deal with the range of disputes which RPTS deal with as in all functions RPTS is a specialist tribunal.
Rent Assessment Committees: generally these deal with disputes and issues arising from rent levels. They were set up under the Rent Act 1977 and now cover Rent Act tenancies, assured shorthold tenancies, assured tenancies and tenancies arising upon the end of a long residential lease. They have specific roles in relation to each of the different types of tenancy for becoming involved in the determination of rent payable.
Leasehold Valuation Tribunals: These deal with a variety of matters relating to long residential leases. Over the past decade the powers granted to them have increased although part of their jurisdiction runs in tandem with the Courts. Where this happens often today the Courts will refer matters to the LVT rather than adjudicating themselves.
In brief LVTs deal with all matters relating to the terms of an acquisition of a freehold or lease extension under the various statutes (e.g. Leasehold Reform and Urban Development Act 1993) including the price payable. They also deal with long residential leasehold disputes including in respect of service charges. This includes determining the reasonableness of service charges and whether appropriate statutory requirements have been complied with such as consultation and matters relating to appointment of managers and Right to Manage applications.
Residential Property Tribunals: these deal with matters relating to park homes and also various appeals and applications in relation to various actions which a local authority can take such as Empty Dwelling Management Orders, Improvement Notices etc.
The above gives only a brief introduction into the jurisdiction of RPTS which has been on the rise over the past 2 decades. This applies to England although Wales has a similar system. From July 2011 RPTS became part of HM Courts and Tribunals Service which is part of the Ministry of Justice. From Autumn 2012 RPTS and the various jurisdictions will then become part of the Property Land and Housing Chamber as a new part of the First Tier Tribunal which will incorporate RPTS, Agricultural Land Tribunals, The Adjudicator of the Land Registry and the Valuation Tribunal for England all within one body.
Many commentators believe that it is likely that greater jurisdiction will eventually be given to this Tribunal to cover more extensively matters relating to residential property.
A dry area but something everyone involved in residential property should know exists and have some knowledge as to what it does given the wide powers it now possesses.