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Rent double – when is your landlord allowed to increase the rent?

Luke Whitmore - Law on the Web

  1. 07 October 2015
  2. Housing
  3. 0 comments
Empty wallet

If you rent your home from another person, you may at some point have faced the potentially nightmarish scenario of an unexpected rent increase. Many people nowadays struggle to make ends meet as it is, so their landlord deciding to raise the rent could be a burden they’re unable to shoulder. Fortunately, though, there are laws which establish what landlords are and aren’t allowed to do.

The rules surrounding rent increases can differ depending on what type of tenancy you have, but some rules are more generally applicable.

How and when the rent can be increased should have been decided upon in your tenancy agreement. If you’d already agreed to increase the rent by a certain amount, your landlord should stick with this unless you are okay with a further increase, in which case they should get this in writing.

Even if your landlord decides you should have to pay more rent, the amount should still be reasonable and fair. It shouldn’t rise out of proportion with other local rent levels, for example.

Fixed-term tenancies

A fixed-term tenancy is one where you have signed a contract agreeing to live in a house for a specific period of time for a certain amount of rent – for example, you may have signed up to live in a house for a year.

The landlord can’t usually increase the rent over the course of a fixed-term tenancy, as you’ve already agreed on the amount you’ll be paying for that period of time. The one exception is if the tenancy agreement specifies that the rent can be increased.

Once the fixed term ends, they can review the rent and raise it if they want to (see periodic tenancies below). Even if you decide to renew your tenancy by entering into a new fixed term, they can increase the amount of rent you will have to pay over the course of that new fixed term. They should provide you with a new tenancy agreement which reflects this.

If the tenancy agreement does not say that the rent can be increased during the fixed term, the only time your landlord can increase the rent during the fixed-term tenancy is if you agree to allow it. If this happens, you should both sign a document specifying the agreed-upon details of the rent increase.

Periodic tenancies

A periodic tenancy is one which renews every month (or sometimes every week), rather than operating under the longer periods seen in fixed-term tenancies. A periodic tenancy may be agreed upon from the start, or it can be automatically created when a tenant stays on in a house after their fixed-term tenancy has expired.

Under a periodic tenancy, rent can usually only be raised once a year, unless you agree otherwise. If you pay rent every week or every month, your landlord should give you at least a month’s notice that your rent is going to go up. With a yearly periodic tenancy, they’ll instead need to give you six months’ notice. The full procedure that the landlord must follow is set out under Section 13 Housing Act 1988.

What can you do if you disagree with a rent increase?

You can appeal to a tribunal against an increase if you think that the amount of the increase is too much or if notice of the increase was not issued correctly. However, if you do not do anything, and simply pay the increased amount, it may be difficult for you to win any appeal.

Furthermore, if you approach a tribunal claiming that the new proposed rent is too much, but it turns out to be lower than the market rent (the average amount of rent for similar property within your area), there is a risk that they will look to increase the proposed rent. It is therefore important that you take legal advice before taking a case to tribunal.

There are some risks to appealing against a rent increase. Most types of tenancy agreements these days are “Assured Shorthold Tenancies”. This means that you will have limited security to stay in the property. If you do not agree to any proposed increases in your rent, your landlord may decide to ask you to leave. In normal circumstances, your landlord would have to give you a period of 2 months’ notice for you to leave.

If you have found yourself in a difficult situation regarding a rent increase, you might find our legal advice helpline useful.

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