I moved into a flat on a six month lease about three months ago, I share with a friend and we're both on the lease. Recently, the letting agency told us that when the lease comes up for renewal, the landlord intends to increase the rent by 6.5%. Can he do this? It's such a big chunk and I'm not sure I'll be able to afford it.
Rent increases can be worrying if you want to stay in your home and think you won't be able to afford it.
Firstly, it's important that you check what type of tenancy you have. Most people who rent privately are assured shorthold tenants. The following information assumes that you are an assured shorthold tenant. If you think you are any other type of tenant, you may want to get help from a local advice service.
In your case, you have a tenancy which has a fixed term for six months. If your tenancy is for a fixed period of time, such as six months or a year, your landlord can't increase the rent until the fixed period ends. The only exceptions to this are if you agree to the increase or there is a clause in your agreement saying that the rent will be increased. The rent increase does not always have to coincide with the renewal of the tenancy. Sometimes these clauses have a formula that includes the rate of inflation but it could be something else such as an increase of 10% of the rent every six months.
Landlords of assured shorthold tenancies charge 'market rents'. A market rent is the amount of money that tenants are prepared to pay. Market rents are affected by the availability and cost of other similar accommodation in the area. It may be worth negotiating with your landlord to try to agree a lower rent increase in return for not having to re-let the property. Alternatively your landlord may agree to increase the rent in stages over a period of time.
If the rent increase is too high and you cannot get your landlord to agree to a cheaper rent, you may have to look for alternative accommodation.
If you have an assured shorthold tenancy, many landlords will increase the rent when they renew your tenancy agreement, i.e. to coincide with the renewal of the tenancy. It can be difficult to challenge the increase, as your landlord can evict you quite easily if you don't agree to pay it.
Issues involving rent increases can be complex so we would encourage you to seek further advice. You may want to get help from a local advice service or you could call Shelter's free housing advice helpline.
Question answered by Shelter