Rent increases when renting privately

Rules for rent increases in private renting vary according to the type of tenancy you have. Most private tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy.

Rent increases for assured shorthold tenants

Landlords can charge a market rent for an assured shorthold tenancy. Rent levels vary and are affected by the availability of rental properties in the area.

Your landlord must follow rules for when they can increase the rent.

Rent increases if you sign a new contract

Landlords can increase the rent if they renew your tenancy agreement. If you sign a new tenancy agreement, you have to pay the amount of rent it sets out.

Rent increases during a fixed-term tenancy

Your landlord can't increase the rent during a fixed-term tenancy unless:

  • there is a clause in your agreement that says when and how the rent can be increased
  • you agree to the increase

If you don't have a fixed term agreement 

You have a periodic tenancy if you never had a fixed-term tenancy agreement or your tenancy's fixed term has ended and the tenancy hasn't been renewed.

Rent for a periodic tenancy can be increased if you agree to the increase or accept it by paying it.

If you don't agree to the rent rise, your landlord can give you at least one month's written notice of a proposed rent increase using Form 4. The new rent will apply after the notice expires. This will be a minimum of 28 days.

Negotiations with your landlord

It costs landlords time and money to re-let a property, so you may want to 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 won't negotiate, you may have to accept a proposed rent increase if you want to stay in your home.  Your landlord could decide to rent to someone who will pay the higher rent.

If they want you to leave, your landlord must give you at least 2 months notice and follow the correct procedure to evict you legally.

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
  • your landlord did not give you a notice saying that you have an assured shorthold tenancy

Your landlord can charge a market rent. Market rents are affected by the availability and cost of similar accommodation in the area.

Rent increases for fixed-term tenants

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.

Rent increases for periodic tenants

Your rent can be increased after a fixed-term expires or if you never had a fixed term agreement.

Your rent can only be increased if 

  • you agree to the increase
  • your landlord has given you one month's written notice of the proposed increase on a special form
  • your tenancy agreement has a rent review clause - this sets out how and when your rent can be increased 

Your landlord may not be able to use a rent review clause for a fixed-term tenancy that has expired.

How to challenge a proposed rent increase

You have the right to apply to a tribunal for rent disputes if your landlord gives you notice of a proposed increase. You must apply before the notice period expires. 

The tribunal decides the level of rent you have to pay. The tribunal may decide to increase the rent if they think it is lower than comparable properties in the area.

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

If you pay the higher rent proposed, it usually means you have agreed to the increase.

Rent increases if you have a regulated tenancy

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

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 by a rent officer at the Valuation Office Agency. You or your landlord can apply to get a fair rent registered if it hasn't already been done.

Fair rents can normally only be increased every two years. Your landlord must give you written notice on a special form if they want to increase the rent. 

The increase is calculated using a special formula. A larger increase may be awarded if the landlord has improved your home.

You can write to the rent officer if you think the proposed increase is too high.

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 agreement unless:

  • your agreement says how and when it can be increased
  • you agree to an increase

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.

If you can't afford a rent increase

Check if you can claim either 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. You'll need to notify:

  • the council's housing benefit department - if you claim housing benefit
  • Jobcentre Plus - if you claim universal credit

You'll need to report the increase and provide evidence such as a letter from your landlord.

Get advice

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

Use Shelter's directory to find a housing adviser

Last updated 05 Oct 2014 | © Shelter

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