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Dealing with a rent increase

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

Your landlord can’t just increase your rent whenever they like, or by any amount. They need to follow certain rules if they want you to pay more - these depend on the type of tenancy you have.

If you disagree with your rent increase the best thing you can do is talk to your landlord and try to reach an agreement to get a lower rent.

If you can’t reach an agreement you might be able to challenge the increase.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you don't feel confident speaking to your landlord or you need help to challenge your increase.

Get advice before your rent increase starts. If you pay the new rent, your landlord will treat this as an acceptance of the new rate and you won’t be able to challenge it.

If you get Housing Benefit you might be able to get extra money to deal with your rent increase, for example Discretionary Housing Payments. Tell the Housing Executive about the increase and send evidence, for example a letter from your landlord.

Check your tenancy agreement  

Your landlord has to follow certain rules to increase your rent - the rules depend on what type of tenancy you have.

If you signed a tenancy agreement it should say what type of tenancy you have and when and how your rent can be increased.

You’II usually have a ‘non-rent controlled tenancy’. Your rent can be increased regularly with this type of tenancy, for example every year - not all landlords will do this though.

If you don’t have a tenancy agreement contact your nearest Citizens Advice to find out what type of tenancy you have.

If you have a non-rent controlled tenancy

Your landlord can increase your rent - based on something called 'market rates'. This is the average cost of similar properties in your local area.

Check the price of properties in your area so you know how much your rent should be on average. You can do this by looking at similar properties in estate agent windows, or by looking on property search websites.

Your landlord can’t increase your rent during the fixed term of your tenancy unless:

  • you agree
  • your tenancy agreement allows it (this is not very common)

If your tenancy agreement says your rent can be increased during your fixed term it has to say when and how it will be done.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if your tenancy agreement says your rent can be increased or if it doesn’t and your landlord tries to increase your rent.

Your fixed term tenancy has ended

Your landlord can increase your rent if you sign a new tenancy agreement when your fixed term ends. Your new rent must be included in your new tenancy agreement or your landlord needs to tell you the new amount before you sign the agreement. If they just tell you the new amount also ask for it in writing.

If you don’t sign a new agreement and you continue to rent the property,  your landlord can increase your rent by giving you reasonable notice. For example at least one month's notice in writing or by speaking to you.

You don’t have a tenancy agreement

Your landlord can increase your rent by reaching an agreement with you if you don’t have a tenancy agreement.

If your landlord doesn’t want to reach an agreement they can increase your rent by giving giving you reasonable notice. For example at least one month's notice.

If you disagree with your rent increase

You don't have the right to challenge your rent increase if you have a non-rent controlled tenancy and your landlord has followed the correct process to increase your rent. But you can try talking with your landlord if they want to put the rent up. Suggest a rent that you think is fair - they might agree to it.

If you have a rent controlled tenancy

You’II usually have a rent controlled tenancy if your tenancy started before 2007 and it’s:

  • been checked by the local council and has failed to meet their housing standards - so it’s an ‘unfit property’

  • a protected or statutory tenancy - check your tenancy agreement if you’re not sure what type of tenancy you have

If you have a rent controlled tenancy, your rent has to be a ‘fair rent’.

A fair rent is set by a rent officer as the maximum rent your landlord can charge. This is usually less than the rent paid by most private tenants.

If your landlord wants to increase your rent they have to apply to the rent officer. You’ll then get a letter from the rent officer telling you if the rent can be increased and by how much.

If you live with your landlord

Your landlord can increase your rent by any amount if you live with them.

If you think your rent increase is too high check the price of properties in your area so you know how much your rent should be on average. You can do this by looking at similar properties in estate agent windows, or by looking on property search websites.

If you have fixed term agreement

Your landlord can’t increase your rent during the fixed term of your tenancy unless:

  • you agree

  • your tenancy agreement allows it (this is not very common)

If your tenancy agreement says your rent can be increased during your fixed term it has to say when and how it will be done.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if your agreement says your rent can be increased during your fixed term or if it doesn’t say this and your landlord increases your rent.

You don’t have a fixed term agreement

Your landlord doesn't have to follow set rules to increase your rent if your fixed term agreement has ended or you never had an agreement. In most cases, your rent can be increased at any time.

If you disagree with your rent increase

You don't have the right to challenge a rent increase if you live with your landlord, but you can try talking with your landlord if they want to put the rent up. Suggest a rent that you think is fair - they might agree to it.

If you can’t reach an agreement your landlord can evict you quite easily if you don’t accept the increase.

Find out more about your rights if you live with your landlord.

Reaching an agreement with your landlord

Ask your landlord if you can pay slightly less than they're suggesting. For example, if your landlord wants to increase the rent from £750 per month to £800 per month, suggest meeting in the middle and paying £775.

Your landlord might negotiate on price rather than risk losing you as a tenant.

Before trying to reach an agreement look at how much similar properties cost to rent in your area. Use this as evidence to show why your rent shouldn’t be increased.

You should also get an idea of what you can afford by using our budgeting tool.

If you can’t reach an agreement with your landlord

If you decide the increase is fair but is just too high for you, think carefully about your options before deciding to leave.

Check also if you can get help to pay your rent. If you’re on a low income or get benefits you might be able to get Housing Benefit for example.

If you decide to move out make sure you’ve found a new place to live before you leave. You might not be able to get any help from your local council if you leave a home that could have been affordable. Find out more about getting housing help from the council.

Challenging your rent increase

You can only challenge your rent increase if you have a rent controlled tenancy. You can appeal to a Rent Assessment Committee. It’s free to do this

Don’t stop paying your current rent even if you challenge the increase -  otherwise you’ll get into rent arrears. If you get into rent arrears, your landlord can apply to court to have you evicted.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help before challenging your rent increase because some landlords can be difficult, they might try to make you to leave the property.

If you don’t pay your rent increase

If you aren’t able to stop your rent being increased by reaching an agreement or challenging it, and you don’t pay the new amount your landlord can try to evict you.

Don’t worry – you can’t be evicted straight away. Your landlord has to follow an eviction process unless you live with them. This involves giving you written notice to leave the property first before getting a court order. Find out more about dealing with eviction.

If you live with your landlord they can evict you more easily by just giving you reasonable notice to leave, which could be a very short amount of time.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice before deciding not to pay your rent increase. It’s important to get help early so you can avoid getting evicted.

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