Q. I am a private landlord and my tenants have been renting my property for the last 4 years. Because they are such good tenants I have never increased the rent as it has always been more important for me to have good tenants and as long as the expenses are covered i.e. the mortgage and the service charges I have been happy with that especially since the financial situation in the world has been so challenging. However, I recently discovered that I could easily be charging another £50pw for my property and have now had a rethink about things and am thinking of putting the rent up. Where do I stand from a legal respect, can I just put the rent up? Any advice would be much appreciated?
A. You are definitely not alone in your decision to keep the rent at the same rate for so long. When the market first fell to pieces back in 2007 for the most part tenants were negotiating their rents downwards and landlords had little choice but to reduce their rents for fear of their tenant moving out. However, that is now all a distant memory and the rental market is now buoyant and strong once again with demand back to the norm. To increase rent I have outlined the basic guidelines and procedures.
Agreeing rent increases
Landlords and tenants should agree how and when the rent will be reviewed. This information should be included in the tenancy agreement.
If the tenancy agreement runs for a set period of six months or more (fixed-term), the agreement should say that rent will either be:
- fixed for the length of the term
- reviewed at regular intervals
If the tenancy is a periodic tenancy (rolling on a month-by-month basis) the agreement should say how often the rent will be reviewed.
When rent can be increased
Both parties can agree a rent increase for a periodic tenancy at any time and should confirm the increase in writing. You should include a clause in the agreement that allows a yearly increase in rent. Landlords cannot normally increase the rent more than once a year without the tenant’s agreement. Landlords can only increase the rent of a fixed-term tenancy if the tenant agrees. If they do not agree, it can only be increased when the fixed-term ends. If the tenancy is a regulated tenancy, you must consider any fair rent conditions. For any tenancy, landlords must get their tenant’s permission to increase the rent by more than had been previously agreed. You must tell your tenant one month before you propose to increase the rent. If they agree, the new rent begins from the date in the notice. If your tenant does not agree, they have the right to apply to a rent assessment committee who will then decide the rent amount.