First tier tribunal property chamber and costs

The First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) provides a forum for the resolution of property disputes where negotiation and mediation have failed. Litigation can be relatively expensive so it's important to know which costs can be recovered.

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What types of issues does the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) handle?

Disputes between landlords and tenants or freeholders/management companies and leaseholders make up a large proportion of cases which end up in the First-tier Tribunal (FTT). There are a wide variety of issues which can be dealt with, including:

Residential

Land registration matters

  • disputes over changes to the land register

  • applications to correct or cancel documents relating to registered land

Agricultural land and drainage matters

  • disputes between agricultural tenants and landlords (which relate to certain types of farming tenancies)

  • applications in respect of certain drainage disputes between neighbours

The FTT also handles applications from valuation officers to enter premises to carry out certain valuations.

What is the process for new applications?

In order to apply for a hearing at the FTT, the relevant form must first be filled in and submitted, according to the type of dispute. Lists of forms can be found on the Gov.uk website and also on LEASE.

In addition to filing the relevant form, an initial application fee must also usually be paid (£100) followed by a hearing fee (£200). Some people on low incomes may be eligible for help with payment of certain fees.

Additional information may be requested by the tribunal, before they make a decision as to whether to hear a particular case. Some cases can be decided on the application alone, without any need for a hearing (known as a 'paper decision'), but an oral hearing can still be requested.

How are hearings conducted?

As mentioned above, paper decisions can be concluded based on the application and any supporting documents. In this case a decision is normally reached within 6 weeks.

If there is an oral hearing, this is held in public. The case can be presented by the individual making the application, or their lawyer, a surveyor, a friend or family member. Questions may be asked by representatives of each party, and the FTT panel. Once the hearing has finished, decisions will normally be reached within 6 weeks.

If either party is unhappy with the decision, they can ask the FTT for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) within 28 days of the decision being made.

Can I recover costs in the First Tier Tribunal?

As a general rule, both parties should bear their own costs of submitting their case to the FTT, irrespective of the outcome. However, there are several exceptions:

  • Wasted costs - if one party has behaved in such a way as to unreasonably increase the costs incurred by the other (eg by insisting on a full oral hearing when it was not necessary) the FTT may require that party to bear the costs of the other party in respect of such costs.

  • Unreasonable behaviour - if the conduct of one party - in bringing, defending or conducting an application - is considered by the FTT to be unreasonable, they may be ordered to pay the costs of the other side.

  • Written contract - sometimes a lease will stipulate that the landlord can claim legal costs through a service charge or in other ways (the FTT can decide if this is reasonable).

  • Legislation - certain laws stipulate that one party has to pay reasonable costs of the other (eg in the case of the 'right to manage' the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 states that tenants must pay the landlord's costs).

For further information about recovering costs at the FTT see the Gov.uk website.

Ask a lawyer

Get advice about the First-tier Tribunal(Property Chamber)

Speak to a lawyer today.