Navigating Rent Increases – Your Rights as a Tenant
As the Bank of England announces another rate increase, the 14th successive rise since December 2021, homeowners brace themselves for potential mortgage chaos. However, amid the chaos, there might be some relief for mortgage holders as several major lenders have announced rate cuts. But for landlords, the picture is different. They face an average two-year residential buy-to-let mortgage rate of 6.86pc, making it challenging for them to keep up with successive rate rises. Consequently, many landlords have passed these increased costs onto tenants in the form of rent hikes. The burden of rent rises is particularly felt by young people, who are more likely to live in rented accommodation. In this blog post, we delve into your rights as a tenant when facing a rent increase and explore strategies for negotiating with your landlord.
Notice Period for Rent Increases
For periodic tenancies that operate on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis, landlords are not allowed to increase the rent more than once a year without the tenant’s agreement. However, most rental agreements are fixed-term, usually for a year, where rent can only be increased if the tenant agrees. If the tenant does not agree, the rent can only be increased after the fixed term ends. Typically, a landlord will propose a rent increase towards the end of the fixed term if the tenant intends to renew the tenancy. For tenants who pay rent weekly or monthly, the landlord must give them a month’s notice before implementing the rent increase.
Rental Price Increase Caps
According to the government, rent rises must be fair and realistic, aligned with average local rents. However, these guidelines can be challenging for tenants to enforce, and there are limited ways to challenge landlords on the proposed rent’s fairness. The Renters’ Reform Bill has proposed the creation of an ombudsman to handle tenant protests against rent hikes, but until it is implemented, landlords can charge rents as long as tenants are willing to pay them.
Until Section 21 is abolished under the Renters’ Reform Bill, landlords can evict tenants without stating a reason, known as “no-fault evictions.” In such cases, landlords are required to provide a minimum of two months’ notice to tenants.
Strategies for Dealing with Rent Increases
1. Do Your Research: If you face a rent increase that exceeds your budget, research similar properties in your area to understand the prevailing rental rates. This information will support your negotiation efforts and provide alternatives if you decide to move out.
2. Decide on a Counteroffer: Be realistic when proposing a counteroffer to your landlord. Acknowledge that rents might rise due to market conditions, but suggest a lower increase that you believe could be more acceptable for both parties.
3. Present Your Case: When negotiating with your landlord, avoid focusing solely on personal circumstances or making emotional pleas. Instead, emphasize the market data you’ve gathered and highlight your track record as a responsible tenant who has maintained the property well.
4. Communicate Your Intentions: If your landlord does not agree to your suggested rent, communicate your intention to explore other rental options. Give your landlord one month’s notice before the end of your tenancy if you decide not to renew, which may prompt them to reconsider their position.
Facing a rent increase can be challenging, especially in a market influenced by successive Bank Rate rises. However, knowing your rights as a tenant and strategizing for negotiations can help you navigate these situations. Research comparable rents, propose a realistic counteroffer, and emphasize your value as a responsible tenant to increase your chances of reaching an agreeable resolution with your landlord.