Upper Tribunal Upholds Fairness in Rent Determination for Assured Tenancy in Peabody Trust v Carole Welstead

Citation: [2024] UKUT 41 (LC)
Judgment on


The case of Peabody Trust v Carole Welstead concerns the procedural fairness in the determination of rent payable for an assured tenancy under the Housing Act 1988, Section 14. The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) reviewed an appeal from the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber), focusing on whether the FTT’s process in restricting rent related to a fixed service charge was procedurally fair.

Key Facts

The appellant, Peabody Trust, had proposed a weekly rent increase, inclusive of a fixed service charge, for Miss Welstead’s assured tenancy in Apsley House, West London. The First-tier Tribunal (FTT), upon Miss Welstead’s referral, determined a new weekly open market rent inclusive of a reduced fixed service charge, which stood below the appellant’s proposed amount due to a government directive on social housing rent increase limits.

Miss Welstead questioned the substantial increase in the service charges, particularly the “managing agent block” costs within the fixed service charge component. Peabody Trust appealed on the grounds that the FTT had not afforded adequate opportunity to address specific components of the service charge, relied on evidence not exposed to parties for comment, and failed to give sufficient reasoning for its decision.

The case addressed various facets of procedural fairness and the use of tribunal expertise in determining rent. The main legal principles discussed include:

  1. Natural Justice and Fairness: The principle highlighted in Al Rawi v Security Service demonstrates that each party must know the core elements of the other party’s case, allowing for fair trial preparation. Peabody Trust’s first ground of appeal argued that the FTT did not adhere to this, raising issues without sufficient notice.

  2. Expertise of Tribunal: The case cited Arrowdell Ltd v Coniston Court (North) Hove Ltd, which supports an expert tribunal using its knowledge to assess evidence. However, it must base decisions on evidence provided, not on evidence not advanced for party comment, and give reasons for its decision.

  3. Rent Determination under Section 14 of the Housing Act 1988: This process does not require the tenant to disprove the landlord’s proposed increase. Instead, the FTT must objectively determine the market rent, even in the absence of agreement or substantial evidence from the landlord.

  4. Transparency in Charges: The tenancy agreement’s lack of clear differentiation between “net rent” and service charges creates a need for transparency to understand what services are covered and whether the increases are justified.


The Upper Tribunal dismissed the appeal on all grounds, asserting the legality of the FTT’s process. It was concluded that:

  • Miss Welstead had sufficiently raised the issue of service charge increases in her referral.
  • The FTT’s determination was within its expertise and did not require exposure to specific evidence for review by parties.
  • Adequate reasons were provided by the FTT for its reduction in the fixed service charge, which was based on the general market expectation.


The Upper Tribunal in Peabody Trust v Carole Welstead [2024] UKUT 41 (LC) upheld the First-tier Tribunal’s decision, emphasizing the principles of natural justice, the proper use of tribunal expertise, and the autonomy of the tribunal to determine rent, especially in the absence of detailed evidence from the landlord. It reinforced the FTT’s duty to independently assess and determine a fair open market rent without conferring a special status to the landlord’s proposed rent or being beholden to information that it could not verify through the landlord’s representation. The decision affirms the tribunal’s right and duty to rely on its general experience and knowledge when determining matters within its expertise, ensuring fair rulings in property disputes.

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