Rent increases when renting privately

The rules for rent increases in private renting often depend on what type of tenancy you have and if your tenancy is for a fixed-term or periodic.

Rent increases for fixed-term tenants

Your landlord cannot normally increase the rent during a fixed-term tenancy unless a clause in your agreement says that the rent can be increased.

If there is no clause in your tenancy agreement, a rent increase during the fixed term of your tenancy can only happen if you agree to it.

Rent increases for periodic tenants

You have a periodic tenancy if you don't have a fixed-term contract, or it has ended.

Many periodic tenants don't have much protection from eviction if they don't want to pay more rent, particularly assured shorthold tenants, lodgers and people with a resident landlord.

You have more protection from eviction and may be able to challenge a proposed rent increase if you have either:

Rent increases if you have an assured shorthold tenancy

Most private tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy. Landlords can charge a market rent for this tenancy type. Rent levels are affected by the availability and cost of similar properties in the area.

You can appeal to a tribunal for rent disputes if you think your rent is too high, but only during the first six months of your tenancy.

A rent tribunal only looks at whether the rent is significantly higher than other market rents in your area, and not if it is reasonable or if you can afford it.

Many landlords increase the rent when they renew a tenancy agreement. If you sign a new agreement, you cannot apply to a rent tribunal.

If the fixed-term of your tenancy has ended and your landlord has not given you a new fixed-term agreement, your rent can only be increased if you agree to it or your landlord follows the procedures that apply to assured tenants.

Assured shorthold tenants don't have much protection from eviction. Your landlord can decide to evict you legally at the end of the fixed-term and rent to someone else at a higher rate. 

You may have to accept the increase if you want to stay in your home. You could negotiate with your landlord to try to agree a lower rent or to increase the rent in stages over a period of time. It costs landlords time and money to re-let a property.

Rent increases if you have an assured tenancy

Some private tenants have an assured tenancy. This is most likely if your tenancy started between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997 and your landlord did not give you a notice saying that you have an assured shorthold tenancy.

Assured tenants pay market rents. Market rents are affected by the availability and cost of similar accommodation in the area.

Your rent can only be increased during the fixed-term of your tenancy if your tenancy agreement sets out how and when it can be increased.

After a fixed-term expires, your rent can be increased if:

  • you agree to the increase
  • your landlord gives you one month's written notice of the proposed increase on a special form

If you have a periodic tenancy and your tenancy agreement does not contain information about rent increases, you do not have to accept the increase. You can continue to pay the original level of rent until you and your landlord reach an agreement, or your landlord serves the correct notice of intent to increase rent.

You have the right to apply to a tribunal for rent disputes if your landlord gives you notice of a proposed increase. The tribunal may decide to put the rent up if they think it is lower than comparable properties in the area.

Once you pay the higher rent, this will normally mean you have agreed to the increase.

Challenging a rent increase won't affect your right to stay in your home. Your landlord needs a legal reason such as rent arrears to evict you from an assured tenancy.

Get advice as soon as you can if you are not happy about a proposed rent increase.

Use Shelter's directory to find face-to-face advice in your local area.

Rent increases if you have a regulated tenancy

You probably have a regulated tenancy if your tenancy started before 15 January 1989.

Regulated tenants have strong tenancy rights and are entitled to a 'fair rent'. A fair rent is the maximum rent your landlord can charge. This is set by a rent officer at the Valuation Office Agency. If a fair rent isn't already registered, you or your landlord can apply to get one registered.

Fair rents can normally only be increased every two years. The increase is calculated using a special formula. A larger increase may be awarded if the landlord has improved your home.

Rent increase for lodgers

Landlords of lodgers can charge a market rent. This is the typical rate for rents in an area. The rent cannot be increased during a fixed-term of your tenancy unless your tenancy agreement says how and when it can be increased.

If you don't have a written agreement, there are no rules limiting the amount your rent can be increased. Your only option is to try to negotiate a lower increase with your landlord.

Housing benefit and rent increases

An increase in your rent counts as a change in your circumstances for housing benefit claims.

You must tell the council if your rent goes up. Provide evidence of the rent increase such as a letter from your landlord or a written decision from a tribunal for rent disputes.

When landlords refuse to accept rent

Sometimes a landlord refuses to accept rent because of a dispute and may then try to evict you for non-payment of rent.

Take steps to protect yourself:

  • write to your landlord stating you wish to pay the rent, and keep a copy of the letter
  • put the money aside or pay it into a bank account. Don't spend it. You'll then have the money when the landlord agrees to accept it or if you are taken to court for rent arrears

Use Shelter's directory to find face-to-face advice in your local area.

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