Many people will have experienced a proposed rent increase in recent times.
But you can take plenty of steps to ensure you’re not paying over the odds.
This article examines what you need to know about your legal standing, what is considered a fair rent increase and how to challenge it if warranted.
What is driving UK rent rises?
One of the main drivers for rising rents is the balance between supply and demand.
There are too few properties to rent and too many people seeking them.
High inflation and other cost-of-living pressures have seen landlords reducing the number of available properties.
This comes when more people opt to rent rather than buy, creating a perfect storm driving rent up.
Are rent increases capped?
Although there is no fixed cap on the amount your landlord can increase your rent, there are rules surrounding a proposed increase.
Firstly, they need your permission; this can be a rental review clause in your contract or a written agreement.
Secondly, any increase must be ‘fair and realistic,’ meaning it must align with average local rents.
For example, if you are paying £800 per month for your flat, but there are similar properties in the area that are rented for £1,000, it would be fair and realistic for your landlord to increase rent by £200.
However, if they proposed a rise to £1,200, you would be within your rights to challenge it.
Your tenancy agreement should clarify how and when your rent will be reviewed, so it’s important to read it carefully to avoid surprises.
Also, your rights are different depending on what kind of tenancy agreement you have.
If you have a periodic tenancy that you pay on a rolling month-by-month or week-by-week basis, your landlord can only increase the rent once a year and must give you at least one month’s notice if they intend to.
When you have a fixed-term tenancy, set for 12 months, for example, your landlord can only increase rent during this tenancy period if you agree.
If you reject the proposed increase, the rent can only rise once your tenancy has ended.
Also, your landlord must give you sufficient notice before you have to start paying the increased rate.
It’s possible that your tenancy agreement has a rent review clause, which gives the landlord the right to raise rent during your tenancy.
Read your contract carefully to check if this clause is present.
How should your landlord propose any rent increase?
Your landlord must always give you notice of any rent increase in writing.
If your fixed-term tenancy is about to end, they can do this by providing a new tenancy agreement that clearly shows the new rate.
If you agree to an increase, they can have a written record drawn up for you both to sign.
They can also use a Section 13 Notice, a formal notice referring to Section 13 of the Housing Act.
Can you negotiate your rent increase?
Once you’ve checked your agreement for a rent review clause and the rental rates for similar properties in your area, it could be time for some negotiation.
Explain your circumstances and the impact that an increase will have on you.
Then, based on your research, suggest a rent that you think is fair.
You might find that your landlord is willing to negotiate rather than lose you as a tenant, and you can shape an agreement that works for everyone involved.
Can your rent ever be raised without your agreement?
A landlord will sometimes seek to raise your rent without your agreement, using a Section 13 Notice.
If you receive one of these formal notifications, first, you need to check whether it’s valid.
A Section 13 Notice cannot be used if:
It’s being used to increase rent during a fixed-term tenancy. Your rent can’t go up until the term ends
You have a rent review clause — in which case rent can only increase in line with the details of the clause
It’s been less than 12 months since the last Section 13 Notice — they can only be used once a year
How do you challenge a Section 13 Notice?
If you receive a valid Section 13 Notice and the proposed increase is higher than other similar properties in your area, you should first try and reach an agreement with your landlord.
However, if this does not work, you may need to escalate the situation.
The rent tribunal, which you can apply for through gov.uk, will review the proposed rise and should give you a decision within six weeks.
However, this is a last resort as the tribunal may decide that your rent should be higher.
Where can you get help?
It’s important to remember that you’re not powerless when challenging a rent increase. If you need support, there’s plenty of free professional advice available. You can contact:
They can help you to challenge a rent increase.
Phone 0800 144 8848
They can advise you on your rights and options when dealing with a rent increase.
They’re open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
A local law centre
They should be able to offer you legal advice, face-to-face or over the phone.
Your local council
Some authorities have tenancy support teams for private renters. Contact yours to see if they can help.
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