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What is rent?

This content applies to England

This page offers a definition of rent and a brief explanation of rent levels.

Definition of rent  

Rent can be defined as the total amount paid to a landlord by an occupier in return for use and occupation of accommodation. Although it is not essential for rent to be paid in order to create a valid tenancy, most landlords are likely to ask for rent. Those tenants and licensees who do not pay rent will have very limited security of tenure.

Rent can be inclusive of other charges, such as maintenance. If a tenancy agreement defines the rent as inclusive of items like service charges, then the charges and the 'net rent' will be defined as the rent. If there is a distinct, separate obligation in the tenancy agreement for charges such as water rates to be paid, then it is likely that arrears of these rates could not be considered arrears of rent.[1]

By 31 December 2016, all final customers of district heating, district cooling, and communal heating and hot water systems will have to be provided with individual meters and actual consumption bills by their heat suppliers - see What is rent? in the Rents section for more information about the requirement for individual meters.

It is the tenant's obligation to make sure that the landlord receives the rent. If the landlord refuses to accept rent, then it is advisable for the tenant to keep the rent in an interest accruing account marked 'rent'. The tenant should then make regular attempts to pay the rent to the landlord.

Rent levels

There are some controls over the amount of rent a landlord can charge and how often the rent can be increased which depend on the type of tenancy a person has. Protected tenants and secure housing association tenants have a right to a fair rent fixed by a Rent Officer. Assured and assured shorthold tenants can ask the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber)[2] to establish a market rent, in limited circumstances.

[1] Dudley Metropolitan BC v Bailey (1990) 22 HLR 424.

[2] s.41 Housing Act 1988; Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) Rules 2013 SI 2013/1169.

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