Rent is easily the highest monthly expense, and the thought of it increasing is rightfully stressful for a tenant.
In this article, we will look at when a landlord can raise your rent and what you can do to reduce the new rent or get something else out of it.
When and can landlords increase the rent?
While your landlord can increase your rent, they cannot exactly do it on a whim. There are some details to take into consideration. The devil is in the tenancy agreement, so you should always pay close attention when signing one.
Your landlord can raise the rent in the following situations:
- They have discussed the increase with you, and you have agreed to it in written form.
- You have signed a tenancy agreement with a rent review clause. It also outlines how this increase will be calculated.
- If you have a fixed-term lease, once the period runs out and you decide to opt in for renewal, the new lease can come with an increased rent.
- Your tenancy is periodic. In such a case, your landlord can raise the rent only once a year without your agreement, serving a Section 13 notice.
In any case, the landlord is obligated to give you notice whenever they are about to raise the rent. The notice must come no less than 30 days in advance for periodic tenancies or half a year for yearly fixed-term ones.
If you live with your landlord, they can raise your rent at any time while you have a periodic tenancy agreement.
How much can landlords increase rent?
Your landlord can only increase your rent with as much as you agreed upon initially. If there are any increases in that sum, the landlord must discuss them with you before applying them.
When deciding on the new rent, the landlord should reference the local rental market and base the increase on the same rental standards in the area.
This means that your rent cannot significantly exceed the average rent for properties of the same size and similar purpose located in the same area. Also, if you are paying a rent of £500, it is unreasonable for it to increase to £600-£700.
Make sure to double-check other properties around and how much renting them would cost. You do not have to agree to the rent increase if you believe it's unfair!
Review your lease agreement
Worried your landlord might increase your rent down the line, or is it already happening? Make sure to double-check your lease agreement. How an increase to your rent can be done is usually outlined there. Is there a rent review clause in your fixed-term agreement?
Check any numbers that have been stated there, including those for the notice periods. The amount and when the increase can occur should also be written in there.
If your landlord has not given you a written notice, you don't have to start paying the new rent until at least 30 days from the day they serve it to you. The notice period depends on your type of tenancy agreement too.
Always make sure that you have a contract with the landlord.
Leases protect a tenant far more than they do the landlord, so ensure you have read yours thoroughly and even with the help of a close person or a lawyer. This will significantly reduce the chance of unpleasant surprises, like increased rent out of the blue.
Negotiate with your landlord
If your landlord has done everything following the tenancy agreement, but you think that the rent increase is too high, it doesn't mean you have to take the increase instantly or move out because of it.
If you like the rental property, you might want to try and talk to your landlord before taking other steps. Searching for new tenants can be as challenging and exhausting as looking for a new rental is. It is a pain for both parties, and your landlord certainly will know that.
How good of a tenant you have been thus far could play a big role in the success of your negotiations.
Have you been a long-term tenant? Do you pay your rent on time? Do you take care regularly of some property maintenance, like cleaning and tidying up? Do you keep noise and problem causing to a minimum?
Use those and other facts to try and persuade your landlord that keeping the same rent, or slightly lower than predicted, would benefit not just you but them as well and that you deserve it.
Go into the conversation prepared. Do your research. Point out any disparities between your rent and the average rent in the neighbourhood. Let your landlord know you like your current place and that you have no intention of moving out of it anytime soon - commit to it.
Offer some sweeteners, like doing a paint job if they provide the materials or other home improvements.
Alternatively, you could use the chance to ask for new appliances or property repairs and maintenance by professional cleaning services to the place if the rent increase is imminent.
It is always better to try and talk it out with your landlord. Coming in the middle and cutting out a deal that satisfies both of you is always better than going to a tribunal instantly, accepting an increase you disagree with or looking into your end of tenancy responsibilities.
Can you refuse a rent increase?
You can contest any rent increases unless you live with your landlord and have a periodic tenancy agreement. If you believe that the rent increase is not justified, you can take the issue with a rent tribunal that can reevaluate the rent amount and adjust it accordingly.
It is important to remember that even if you strongly disagree with your rent increase, you should not stop paying rent. Keep paying until the tribunal decision is out.
Otherwise, stopping to do so could serve as the basis for an eviction process by your landlord or damage your rental history.
You could also ask for payment assistance from your local council if you are low-income.
Move out if you can’t afford to pay
Plenty of amazing rental options exist, and you should not compromise by taking a deal you hate or fighting a lost battle. You could easily take the time until a tribunal decision is out to look around for something new, just to research options.
As your end of tenancy approaches, you might want to consider end of tenancy cleaning.
Property maintenance services can be a fantastic help to save yourself some time and give a rental proper property maintenance come the end of your tenancy, especially if you don't know how to do end of tenancy cleaning.
Move-out cleaning is a major tenant responsibility at the end of the day.
Rent increases are a boogeyman that could easily draw your end of tenancy closer and faster if your landlord is unwilling to negotiate. It is important to evaluate how important your rental is to you and if there truly are good alternatives.
If you decide to move, consider booking expert end of tenancy cleaners to save yourself time and stress if you don’t know how to do property cleaning before moving out.