Home Property Tenants legal rights on landlords increasing rents answered by leading property law firm Blandy & Blandy

Tenants legal rights on landlords increasing rents answered by leading property law firm Blandy & Blandy

31st Jul 23 4:25 pm

Rents on residential properties are rising at the fastest rate since 2016, as is the number of people renting which has more than doubled in the past decade.

Tenants across the UK would argue that they are being squeezed by landlords, who are passing on higher mortgage payments, due to rising interest rates, as well as other costs, leading to record rent increases.

The situation has been further exacerbated by the upcoming Renter’s Reform Bill, which has resulted in a degree of uncertainty for both landlords and tenants.

A shortage of private rented homes and a lack of available social housing also continues to contribute to driving rents up further. As more and more landlords sell up, private renters are left chasing a more limited supply.

Asma Muneer, a solicitor at law firm Blandy & Blandy, who specialises in advising on property disputes, answers some of the questions landlords and tenants may have.

Can my landlord increase my rent?

Most tenants will have an agreement known as an assured shorthold tenancy. Some of these will be fixed, for six months or a year for example, or alternatively operate on a rolling basis, where rent is paid weekly or monthly with no fixed end or renewal date.

In England, landlords are usually allowed to only increase rent once per year and must give their tenants at least one months’ notice. The increase must be “fair and reasonable”, with total rents in line with other properties in the area.

If your agreement is fixed, then normally landlords cannot increase the rent until the fixed term ends, unless there is a rent review clause in the agreement. Again, tenants must be given at least one month’s notice before rent is increased, though this is increased to six months’ notice if the fixed term is a year.

But I cannot afford a rent increase?

It can be difficult to know what to do if your landlord increases your rent, making it unaffordable for you. However, you do not need to move out straight away if your rent increases.

Your landlord must follow a legal process if they want you to leave. Under current legislation, they must give you a valid notice and apply to the court to end your tenancy, which can take months.

If you decide that you want to leave, you should be aware that your tenancy will not end just because you move out. You may still be responsible for rent and you may lose your deposit unless you reach an agreement with your landlord.

The Renters Reform Bill, introduced to Parliament on 17 May 2023, aims to provide a fairer private sector for both landlords and tenants. Landlords may be increasing rents from now before this proposed legislation comes into effect as there is nothing which prevents them from doing so.

The new legislation will allow landlords to increase rent once a year (up to a market level) if the tenants are given two months’ notice of the increase, which will abolish the rent review clauses. Tenants will be able to contes increases and request that a tribunal decides whether the new rent amount is reasonable.

Following on from rent increases, under the new rules evicting tenants will also be very difficult as the Government is committed to abolishing Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.

Under the current laws, a landlord is permitted to wait until the end of a fixed term before using the no fault procedure to remove tenants who are in arrears. This has typically been a quick and effective process for landlords and the courts are typically guaranteed to rule in the landlord’s favour, assuming they have followed the correct process.

However, under the new laws, this will no longer be possible. Landlords will be required to prove a certain amount of rent arrears before they will be able to evict a tenant.

For further information or legal advice, please visit www.blandy.co.uk.

Leave a Comment

You may also like