If you’re a tenant living in the UK, chances are you have experienced firsthand the ongoing surge in monthly rent prices. Tenants all across the country are continuously facing higher costs of living due to their already hefty rents rapidly and relentlessly increasing – especially in London and the southeast of the country.
The numbers speak for themselves: In an article published in May this year, The Guardian quoted the Office for National Statistics reporting that rents in Great Britain rose by 2.6% in the past 12 months to March. The figures are skyrocketing: “The average cost of renting a property outside London rose by 5.1% in the 12 months to April, while tenants in the capital faced a 7.7% increase … Rents were rising faster in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK, with the average up by 11.4% year-on-year to £704 a month.”
Weighing the pros and cons
So, what can you do about those horrendous rent increases? At first, it may seem like your hands are tied. After all, people from across the globe flock to London, Edinburgh, Manchester, and other parts of the country, many of whom intend to settle down. Demand for accommodation is on the grow, whereas the offer is limited (or at least cannot follow the need for adequate housing nearly as quickly), so the prices go up. It’s simple economics.
That’s no news to anyone, but living in a country with a high quality of life usually comes at a high cost, too. Sometimes, however, it seems that the cost of living interferes with the quality of life. Unless you’re one of the few lucky ones, you will just have to bite the bullet and pay a high rent.
That being said, it’s very important you’re fully aware of your legal tenant rights so you can nip in the bud the effort of greedy landlords trying to unlawfully increase your rent.
Know your basic rights
- For a periodic tenancy (on a weekly or monthly basis), your landlord can’t normally increase the rent more than once a year without your agreement.
- For a fixed-term tenancy (running for a set period) your landlord can increase the rent only if you agree. If you don’t, he or she can do so only after the fixed term ends. The only exception is if there’s a clause in your tenancy agreement that allows your rent to be increased before the end of the fixed term.
In general, your landlord must give you a minimum of one month’s notice (if you pay rent weekly or monthly). If you have a yearly tenancy, they must give you six months’ notice. In all cases, regardless if you have a period or fixed-term tenancy, the increase “must be fair and realistic, i.e. in line with average local rents”.
If your think the proposed increase is unfair or unjustified, try talking to your landlord first and explain calmly why you think this is. In case you reach an impasse, there is a legal way to solve the dispute in front of a first-tier property tribunal. You can download the form you need for that here, and submit it to the regional office that covers your area.
A note of caution
However, bear in mind that getting into a dispute with your tenant is like walking on thin ice. Your landlord can simply choose to legally “evict” after your rent term comes to an end; rather than reducing the amount they want to charge you, they may just find someone else willing to pay more for the same thing. It’s up to you to carefully evaluate the ratio of power in this specific tenant-landlord relationship, and play your cards accordingly. And if worse comes to worst, you might as well decide the property is not worth the extra quid and start looking for another one. The landlord-tenant relationship can be a potential minefield in such circumstances, and we’ve written our two pence on how to deal with the most common issues that can arise here.
Need a hand?
Your landlord is continuously neglecting their duties or breaching the tenancy agreement? If open conversation fails, you might need to hire a professional to claim what is rightfully yours. We’d be happy to help you out, so don’t hesitate to fill in this brief form now and get a free quote.