Can my landlord increase the rent?

After giving us only two weeks' notice, our landlord has just put our rent up by 30%. It's a shared house and I've been living here for three months, so I want to know if he can legally do this without giving us a longer notice period?

Most people who rent privately and their landlord lives elsewhere are assured shorthold tenants. The following advice is based on this. If you live with your landlord, or think you have a different type of tenancy, please get further advice.

If you have a fixed term tenancy agreement, the landlord can’t increase the rent during the first fixed term. Fixed term tenancies are ones that are for a set length of time, usually for six or twelve months. Once the first fixed term ends, you become a ‘periodic’ tenant if you don’t sign a new agreement.

Periodic tenancies are tenancies that continue after a fixed term has ended. You don’t need to sign a further agreement. If you’re a periodic tenant, the rent can be increased. If your rental agreement doesn’t say anything about rent increases, the rent can be increased either by you both agreeing to an increase, or by your landlord giving you a formal ‘notice of increase’. In this situation, there is no limit on how much he can increase the rent by.

If your agreement specifies how the rent can be increased, by how much, and how often, the landlord is bound by this. The ‘notice of increase’ must be in a certain form. It must say how much the new rent is and when it comes into effect. The amount of notice your landlord is required to give you before the rent increase takes effect must be at least one rental period (usually one month for an assured shorthold tenancy). If the landlord doesn’t follow the correct procedure for the notice and you haven’t agreed to any increases, you can continue paying rent at your existing level until you and your landlord reach an agreement, or your landlord correctly serves a formal notice of intent to increase rent.

However, as an assured shorthold tenant your landlord may be able to evict you quite easily without having to give a reason. That means they may simply not bother with the notice of increase, and just evict you if you won’t agree to a rent increase. You might want to get help to negotiate with your landlord to make sure he acts correctly. If the rent is increased and you receive housing benefit, you should immediately inform the housing benefit department of the increase. They may not be able to meet the increase if the rent is too high. If so, you should get advice from your local Shelter office or Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB).

Answered by Shelter on 20-Mar-2014

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