Q. I am a private Landlord and look after my properties myself without any help from an agent. I am always keen to adhere to all the correct legislation surrounding rentals. However when it comes to rent increases I am unclear as to when these can legally be implemented and how to do so in the correct manor, can you help?
A. Rentals in general can be a complete minefield of legislation and it is really important that you keep up with the latest requirements expected of you as a landlord. With respect to rent increases the laws are very clear as to what you can and can’t do and more so when you are able to implement an increase. For instance an AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy) is usually for a fixed term, generally 12 months but can be for longer and you cannot increase the rent during this period unless there is a clause within the contract specifically allowing you to do so. If at the end of the initial term of that contract both parties agree to an increase in rent then a new tenancy for a further fixed period can be granted. Alternatively some Landlords allow the contract to run on, this is what is referred to as a Statutory Periodic Tenancy this usually happens when the tenants are unwilling to commit to a further fixed term or a renewal of the current contract. If this happens you must serve a Section 13 Notice on the tenants to implement a rent increase. If the agreement is a monthly periodic tenancy this means giving no less than one month’s notice of the rise. Once this has been agreed you cannot increase the rent again for at least a year. If you increased the rent without serving a Section 13 Notice, the tenant does not have to acknowledge the rise, unless of course this is covered by a clause in the original tenancy agreement. Personally I always advise Landlords to try and negotiate a renewal with their tenants for another fixed term, that way you are perfectly ok to increase the rent and also have the assurance that you have the property let for at least another six months. Of course now and again situations will present there selves where tenants require flexibility and are unable to commit to a new term, thus making things a little more complicated in terms of increasing the rent. A section 13 Notice is available to download on line or from any reputable stationers.