In England, if you have a fixed-term tenancy, the rent can only be increased during the fixed period if your agreement contains a rent review clause.
At the end of a fixed term, the landlord may offer you a new fixed term but at an increased rent. If you are not offered or do not wish to sign up for another fixed term, you and your landlord can agree a rent increase – or even a reduction.
If you’re asked to pay more rent, here’s our 10-step guide to keeping your rent rises to a minimum.
- Don’t respond straight away. Check what your negotiating position is.
- Check if you have your landlord’s contact details. The suggestion of raising the rent often comes from the letting agent (who’d bag a higher commission) and landlords tend to be more sympathetic. Letting agents are legally obliged to provide you with the landlord’s name and address if requested in writing (read more).
- What rent do they want? Research what similar properties are being advertised nearby and make a note of any that are cheaper than the proposed rent. If your landlord says their costs are going up, bear in mind that fewer than half of private rented properties have a mortgage, so there should be other landlords out there who aren’t under that pressure. If your landlord is blaming mortgage costs, you could check what they paid for the property on the Land Registry. You can also find how your rent compares on this government local housing allowance checker.
- Is it affordable? If the rent goes up, is there a risk you’d fall behind and leave the landlord short of cash? If someone else takes it could they afford the rent? Rent is considered affordable if it is less than a third of your income (though letting agents tend to use 40%). Statistics on local salaries are published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – see Table 10.
- Have you been a reliable tenant? Threatening to move out is your strongest bargaining chip. Your landlord wouldn’t want to take a risk on an unknown tenant, especially when they would have to pay to advertise the property, miss out on rent for several weeks and then (thanks to the letting fees ban) cover the cost of starting the new tenancy.
- It takes some chutzpah from a crappy landlord to put up the rent. If you’ve asked them to make repairs and they’ve dragged their feet or simply not done them, then you shouldn’t have to pay extra for incompetence. Remind them of this (as politely as you can) and make sure you have copies of emails/photos of disrepair in case they need evidence.
- In case the landlord insists on putting up the rent, make sure they invest that money in the property: new carpets, fuel-efficient boiler, fixing the ignition button on the cooker. It’s also an opportunity to ask if you can have a pet. Consider holding this list back until the landlord has responded to your other points.
- Now you’ve built your case, give your landlord a call, or send them an email or letter if you don’t have their number. Tell them you’ll have to move out if they put up the rent and go through the list of reasons why they should keep it unchanged (or, if you’re feeling confident, lower it!). If you don’t get a response straight away, let the agent know you’re waiting to hear from the landlord.
- The landlord could refuse to reconsider. In this case make your demands for improvements.
- The landlord could ask you for a counter offer. A reasonable guide is the current rate of rent inflation as measured by the ONS (though it’s worth checking if Consumer Price Inflation or Wage Inflation is lower). Be prepared to compromise – and make those demands for something in return.
If you don’t reach an agreement, the landlord can serve notice of a rent increase under Section 13, which can only be used once a year. If you receive such a notice and you think the proposed rent is too high, you might be able to challenge it through a tribunal, but seek independent advice from a local advice agency such as a Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor before the proposed date of the increase. If you don’t challenge the proposed rent, the new rent will be due from the date in the notice.
We have a factsheet on dealing with a rent increase available here.