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How to cope if your landlord increases your rent

Posted 05 June 2016

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Would you be able to afford your rent if it was more expensive?

When you’re managing a lot of bills, it’s likely that one of your major costs will be the roof over your head – whether that’s rent or a mortgage. It’s also one of your priority bills, meaning you need to make sure you pay it before other less important bills. That’s because if you don’t pay your rent you could lose your home.

If you’re a tenant and the cost of your rent goes up, it can be hard to deal with. You might find yourself starting to struggle with some of your bills – so let’s take a look at how to cope with a rise in rent before the situation gets too critical.

 

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Can they increase the rent?

First off, you need to know when your landlord can increase your rent. If you initially took out a fixed-term contract for your property but you’ve now moved to a monthly rolling contract, your landlord may be within their rights to put your rent up. They can usually only do this once a year, unless your contract says differently or you agree to another price rise.

Your landlord can’t increase your rent too much – it should stay around the average rent price for your local area. So if your rent is just increasing in line with inflation, your landlord can do this but if they put it up by 25%, you could argue that this is unfair.

Your landlord also has to give you at least one month’s notice before any rent increases come into force. They couldn’t just start charging you more rent or say you had to start paying more in two weeks’ time. If you’re on a yearly tenancy, your landlord must give you at least six months’ notice.

Check your contract to see if there’s already a procedure in place for rent increases. If there is, your landlord must stick to it. But if there isn’t, they’ll need to agree a rent rise with you after your initial fixed-term tenancy has ended.

When they can’t

If you’re still in your initial fixed-term contract, your landlord can’t change your rent unless you agree to it. That means if you signed a contract for 12 months and after six months your landlord asks to charge you more, you don’t have to agree to it.

After the fixed term ends though, there’s nothing to stop your landlord increasing your rent. They’ll still have to give you the proper amount of notice – at least one month unless you’re on a yearly contract. But your landlord still shouldn’t increase your rent more than once a year, even if you’re on a periodic tenancy.

As we already said, if your contract mentions rent increases, this is the policy your landlord has to follow. So if it says your rent will increase by £50 once every two years, for example, your landlord can’t decide to put it up after just a year. They’d have to ask you about any other rent increases and you’d just keep paying the same level of rent – until you and your landlord reached an agreement.

Even if you don’t agree to the new rent price, your landlord may ask you to leave when you come to the end of your fixed term, if you an assured shorthold tenant. You’re probably on this kind of tenancy unless your landlord is a council or housing association. For assured shorthold tenants, landlords don’t need a reason to evict them – they can just get a new tenant in.

Your landlord needs a ‘section 21 notice’ to evict you unless you’re in rent arrears. This will give you two months before you have to leave.

Look at your budgeting

If you’re starting to struggle because your rent has become too expensive, it’s worth taking another look at what you’re spending on your other bills. For example, could you switch your energy supplier to free up some money? Or could you claim benefits? Find out how you could save money on your household bills with our handy tips.

It might also be better to see if you can find another property to rent that’s within your budget. Have a look around your area to see if there are any more affordable properties but keep in mind that they might come with their own extra costs. For example, if a flat is further away from where you work, you might have to pay more for your commute.

What else can you do?

You don’t have to cope with unaffordable rent on your own. If you’re struggling with any of your bills, you can get advice from the Money Advice Service. You can also seek help from one of our trained advisors using any of the options on the left. They can talk through your problems and look at the various debt solutions available to see if any are right for your situation.

 

by Emily Bancroft

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.