Rent increases when renting privately

Find out what rules for rent increases apply to your private rented home.

Rent increases for assured shorthold tenants

The amount of rent you must pay is set out in your tenancy agreement or agreed verbally with your landlord. Rent increases must follow certain rules.

Landlords can charge a market rent for an assured shorthold tenancy. This the most common private tenancy type.

Agreeing to pay a new rent

Your landlord can increase the rent if you agree. It usually counts as agreeing to a new rent if you pay a rent increase, even if you are unhappy about it.

Signing a new contract

If you sign a new tenancy agreement, you have to pay the rent amount set out in the new agreement.

During a fixed-term tenancy

Your landlord can't increase the rent during a fixed-term tenancy unless there is a rent review clause in your agreement that says the rent can be increased.

Most assured shorthold tenancies start with a fixed term.

Rent increases when a rent review clause is used

Your landlord can use a rent review clause in your tenancy agreement to increase the rent, if your contract contains one.

A rent review clause usually sets out:

  • when the increase will happen and how much notice you'll get
  • how your rent can be increased (for example, a formula for calculating the new amount)

Any rent review clause won't apply after your tenancy's fixed term ends, unless your tenancy continues as a contractual periodic tenancy. This happens if your tenancy agreement says something like: 'this contract is for a term of 12 months and thereafter from month to month'.

Rent increases using a section 13 notice

Your landlord can use a section 13 notice increase your rent if your tenancy agreement doesn't contain a rent review clause (or if the rent review clause no longer applies).

Your landlord must use Form 4 to give you valid notice.

The section 13 procedure can only be used to increase your rent once a year.

You must get at least 1 month's notice of the increase if you have a weekly or monthly tenancy. You are entitled to more notice if your tenancy period is longer than a month.

Your landlord can serve the notice during the fixed term of your tenancy, but the rent increase can't take effect until after the fixed term has ended. If your tenancy didn't start with a fixed term, a section 13 notice can't be used during the first year.

If you don't challenge the increase, the new rent applies after the notice expires.

Right to challenge a proposed section 13 increase

You can apply to a tribunal for rent disputes to challenge a proposed section 13 rent increase.

The tribunal must receive your application before the rent increase date given on the notice.

You must continue to pay rent at the previously agreed rate until the tribunal makes its decision. The tribunal can decide you have accepted the rent increase if you pay it.

If the tribunal decides to increase your rent, the new rent usually applies from the rent increase date on the section 13 notice.

Negotiating the amount of an increase

It costs landlords time and money to re-let a property, so you could try negotiating with your landlord if you:

  • don't want to accept the rent increase at all
  • would accept a lower rent increase
  • want the increase to be rolled out in stages over a period of time

If your landlord wants you to leave, they must give you legal notice and follow the correct steps for eviction.

If you decide to leave, make sure you give proper notice in writing.

Rent increases if you have an assured tenancy

You are likely to have an assured tenancy if your tenancy started between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997. 

You won't be an assured tenant if your tenancy started between these dates and your landlord gave you a notice saying that you have an assured shorthold tenancy.

Rent increase rules

Your landlord can charge a market rent. Your landlord must follow the same rules for rent increases that apply to assured shorthold tenants.

In summary, your rent can only be increased if:

  • you agree to the increase or accept it by paying it
  • a rent review clause in your tenancy agreement sets out how and when your rent can be increased
  • your landlord uses a section 13 notice to give you at least 1 month's notice of the proposed increase (if a rent review clause can't be used)

Your rent can't be increased during the fixed-term of your tenancy unless a rent review clause allows it.

How to challenge a proposed rent increase

You can apply to a tribunal for rent disputes to challenge a proposed rent increase made using a section 13 notice only. 

Your application must be received before the notice period on form 4 expires. The tribunal decides the level of rent you have to pay.

It won't affect your right to stay in your home if you challenge a rent increase. Your landlord needs a legal reason to evict you from an assured tenancy. Rent arrears is a legal reason for eviction, so make sure you keep your correct payments up to date.

Rent increases if you have a regulated tenancy

If your private tenancy started before 15 January 1989, you probably have a regulated tenancy. Regulated tenants are entitled to a 'fair rent'. 

A fair rent is the maximum rent your landlord can charge. This is usually less than the market rent paid by most private tenants.

Fair rents are set rent by a rent officer at the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). Landlords and regulated tenants can apply to the VOA to ask to register a new fair rent.

A fair rent can normally only be increased every two years. 

Increases are calculated by a rent officer using a special formula. A larger increase may be awarded if your landlord has improved your home.

Once the rent officer registers a new fair rent, your landlord must give you written notice on a special form before the increase can take effect.

You can write to the rent officer if you think the proposed increase is too high. You’ll need to do this within 28 days. The case will be referred to the First-tier Tribunal.

The Tribunal may decide that the rent should be set at a lower amount, however they could also increase it to more than the amount set by the rent officer.

Rent increases for lodgers

Landlords of lodgers can charge a market rent. 

Your landlord can't increase the rent during a fixed-term agreement unless there is a clause in your agreement says that it can be increased.

If you don't have a fixed-term 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.

Benefits to help with a rent increase

Check if you can claim housing benefit or universal credit help with housing costs.

An increase in your rent counts as a change in your circumstances if you are already claiming one of these benefits.

Report the rent increase to:

Make sure you also provide evidence such as a notice of the increase or a letter from your landlord.

Still need help?

Get advice as soon as you can if you need more information about a proposed rent increase.

Use Shelter's directory to find a housing adviser

Last updated 29 Oct 2019 | © Shelter

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