When Can a Landlord Increase Rent?
A landlord can usually increase rent once per year for tenants with a periodic tenancy. Periodic tenancy agreements generally roll on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis.
A landlord can only increase the rent for a fixed-term tenancy if the agreement permits it.
This is because fixed-term tenancies run for a set period. So, raising the rent should occur when the fixed term ends.
Note: Special rules apply for landlords increasing regulated tenancy rental payments.
How Can a Landlord Increase Rent?
You must adhere to the rules of a fixed-term tenancy agreement. That means you cannot increase the rent during its term unless stated.
Periodic tenancies are different because landlords can:
- Agree rent increases with tenants. You should produce a written record of the agreement signed by both parties.
- Use a ‘Landlord notice proposing a new rent‘ form. That gives your tenant at least one month notice of a rent increase.
Note: Any rent increase must be fair and realistic. A guide is being in line with similar reasonable rents on the open market.
When Tenants Disagree (unfair rent increase)
Tenants often disagree and think the rent increase is unfair. In this case they can ask the First Tier Property Tribunal to make a decision on a reasonable amount.
Changing Terms of Regulated Tenancies (fair rents)
Landlords must use special rules for changing rents and terms in regulated tenancies. In most cases they are private tenancies which began before the 15th of January 1989.
Increasing Fair Rents
The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) sets the rent for regulated tenancies. Landlords cannot increase fair rents above this amount. You can check the register of fair rents to determine what the set amount is.
VOA will review the rent every 2 years if you ask them to. They may perform this earlier if something affects the value, to keep the rent fair. But, beware that your rent may increase or decrease after a VOA rent review.
You can download and then fill in fair rent forms used for registering and cancelling registered rents and to have your rent reviewed. Mail the completed form to the Valuation Office Agency Network Support Office.
VOA Network Support Office
Wycliffe House, Green Lane
Durham DH1 3UW
What Happens If Fair Rent Increases?
If the fair rent increases you must serve a notice of increase of rent on your tenant. Landlords can charge the new rent starting from the date it gets registered. You can get a ‘notice of increase’ form from legal stationers and send the completed form to your tenant.
Note: You may backdate a notice of rent increase for no more than four (4) weeks.
How to Cancel a Registered Rent
First you need to download and fill in an application form to cancel a registered rent. Then, send the form to the address written on the document.
Do this if the tenancy stops getting regulated or you and your tenant both agree to cancel a registered rent. The full process can take up to six (6) weeks to complete.
Settling Disputes with Tenants
Landlords often settle tenant disagreements on rent increases without the need for going to court. Using a mediation service, such as when resolving neighbour disputes, can also help to settle a conflict with a tenant:
- Discuss your concerns with your tenants and try to reach an agreement.
- Failing that, write a formal letter that sets out the problem.
- Consider using a mediation service. They are usually less expensive and quicker than going to court.
- If all that fails then you can go to court to settle the tenant dispute.
Taking Legal Action in Court
Your case usually goes to a small claims court if you take legal action to solve the dispute. Small claims cases are those worth less than £5,000 (£1,000 if the case is about making repairs to a property).
Most courts offer a free mediation service for small claims cases. Often, the discussion takes place over the telephone.
Note: Make an online possession claim to get your property back when your tenants owe you rent money.
Free Advice for Landlord and Tenant Disputes
There are several organisations who offer free advice about disputes or housing problems. Contact your local Citizens Advice or the Shelter group (Shelter Cymru in Wales). A solicitor may charge but they can help.
Note: You can also get free advice on the day of the hearing from the housing duty desk at the court.