The landlord wants to increase the rent
Check your tenancy type
Tenancies are usually either public or private with specific types of tenancies within these broad categories. Your rights about rent depend on the type of tenancy you have.
If you think you have a public tenancy, usually if you rent from a council or housing association, check types of public tenancies to find out what type of tenancy you have.
If you think you have a private tenancy, if you rent from an individual for example, check renting types of private tenancies to find out what type of tenancy you have.
Check whether your landlord can increase the rent
Check whether your landlord can increase the rent and whether you can challenge it.
Every time the landlord wishes to increase the rent they have to follow a strict procedure set down in law. If the landlord doesn't follow this, you can't legally be expected to pay the higher rent. The landlord can only try to increase the rent once every 12 months by an official notice.
You have the right to challenge each proposed increase. You might want to challenge a rent increase if you believe it’s a lot higher than what's charged for similar homes in your area. You should look for evidence of the rent being advertised for new lettings, for example on letting agents' websites.
Rent increase notice
The notice must be on a specific form titled 'Landlord’s rent-increase notice to tenant(s)' and has to be completed accurately by the landlord, telling you:
- the new rate that the landlord wants to charge
- the beginning date that the higher rent would become effective
- your rights, including to refer the proposed increase to a rent officer.
The form includes a section for you to complete and return to the landlord. If you don’t respond, the landlord will take this to mean you agree with the increase and you’ll have to pay the higher rate from the date on the notice.
Simply returning the relevant section of the notice to the landlord will not automatically trigger an application to a rent officer. You'll also need to apply directly within 21 days.
Your landlord’s rent-increase notice should give you a clear three months before it can take place. If you’ve had less notice than that but don’t want to challenge the amount of the increase, you can return the slip on the form to tell the landlord the date that you think the new rent should become effective.
If you have any problems with your rent-increase notice, it may be worth speaking to an experienced adviser, for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
Challenging a rent increase
If you want to refer a rent increase to a rent officer, you must apply to Rent Service Scotland within 21 days of receiving the notice.
The rent officer can decide any of the following:
- set the rent higher than the landlord’s proposal
- agree with the landlord’s increase
- set a rate that is higher than the current rent but lower than the proposed increase
- keep the rent the same
- set a lower rent than the current rate but this is unlikely to happen in most cases.
When a rent officer looks at your case, their decision will be based on what comparable properties are being advertised for. They can’t decide based on what would be affordable for you.
Applying to Rent Service Scotland
You should complete an official application form called 'Tenant's rent increase referral to a rent officer' and send it by email or post to the below address.
You should include documents like your tenancy agreement and the rent-increase notice.
If you're applying by post, it may be worth sending by recorded delivery to be sure that it arrives on time.
Rent Service Scotland
Tel: 0300 244 7000
Fax: 0131 244 8222
Challenging a rent officer's decision
The rent officer will first send a 'provisional' decision stating the rent they are planning to set. Both you and the landlord have 14 days to challenge this.
It's also worth sending evidence of homes similar to yours being advertised for lower rent than the provisional decision. You might be able to find this by looking at letting agents' online listings.
If you disagree with the rent officer’s final decision, you can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber). You’ll need evidence of lower rents in your area to support your appeal as you’re unlikely to succeed on argument alone.
If you’re thinking about disputing a rent increase it could be worth speaking to an experienced adviser in your local area, for example at your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
If you paid a rent increase you didn't have to
If you've paid a rent increase when you didn't have to, you could ask the landlord to return the difference between what the rent should have been and what you paid. If the landlord doesn't agree, you can complain to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber).
If you're an assured tenant you must pay whatever rent you agreed with the landlord when the tenancy began. The rent can't be increased unless the tenancy agreement allows it, or you agree.
If the tenancy agreement doesn't mention rent increases or the landlord tries to increase the rent other than in the way laid out in the tenancy agreement, you don't have to pay the increase. You must consult an experienced adviser - where to get advice.
If you think a proposed increase is too high, you can refer it to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) to decide on a reasonable 'market rent' for the property. This is a complicated process and you must consult an experienced adviser before doing this - where to get advice.
Visit the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) website to find out more about the Tribunal.
Short assured tenancies
As a short assured tenant you must pay whatever rent you agreed with the landlord when the tenancy began. You can apply to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) to compare the rent to rents for similar tenancies in the area and, if it is higher, to reduce the rent. You should be aware that the Tribunal could decide to increase the rent, if it's lower than rents for similar tenancies.
If you have your rent reduced, the landlord may refuse to renew the short assured agreement when it expires.
If you think that a proposed rent increase is too high you can ask the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) to decide on a reasonable 'market rent'. However, the Tribunal may decide a reasonable 'market rent' higher than the amount proposed by the landlord. Visit the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) website to find out more about the Tribunal.
If you want to take your rent to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) you must consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
As a regulated tenant you must pay the rent agreed with your landlord when the tenancy began. However, either you or the landlord can subsequently ask the Rent Officer to fix a 'fair rent'.
If you intend to take action about your rent you should make sure you are a regulated tenant. You must consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
A landlord cannot increase your rent if it has been registered as a fair rent by the Rent Officer. If no fair rent has been registered, the landlord cannot increase the rent unless you agree formally in writing or the landlord applies to the Rent Officer and the Rent Officer fixes a fair rent.
Common law tenancies and non-tenant occupiers
If you're a common law tenant or non-tenant occupier and you're charged rent, you must pay the rent agreed with the landlord when you moved into the accommodation. You cannot apply to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) to have the rent reduced.
If the landlord wants to increase the rent, in practice there is nothing that you can do to prevent this. You cannot apply to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) to have the rent reduced.
Scottish secure tenancies
Rents for Scottish secure tenants is fixed according to the landlord's housing policy and guidelines from the Scottish Housing Regulator. Landlords must consult with tenants over rent increases and give them four weeks notice of any rent increase. While landlords must 'take account' of tenants' views, they are not bound by them and tenants have no further recourse over rents. A tenant cannot control the amount of rent payable, but may be able to claim housing benefit to help pay it.
If you're having trouble paying your rent or council tax
If you have difficulty in paying your rent and/or council tax because you have a low income, you may be eligible for Housing Benefit, Universal Credit, and/or help with your council tax. You should look at: