Here is a question to the blog clinic from Hayley who is a tenant
We have been renting a property since June 2008. Just over a year ago my partner was made redundant. Naturally this impacted on our finances and we were reliant on housing benefit, unfortunately this did not cover all our rent and we went into arrears.
We told our landlord but she contacted us frequently to chase the money and told us to borrow from family members, we understood her point of view but said we couldn’t do this.
Eventually when our arrears equalled two months in August this year she served us with an eviction notice. Only a few days later, my partner found a new job so we contacted her and negotiated a repayment plan of £40 per month which would clear our arrears by April 2015. (We did manage to make a one-off payment of £300 funded by the sale of my partner’s motorbike which brought the arrears under two months).
Our landlord keeps contacting us to ask if we can pay more money, last month she came to the house and tried to make me agree to a payment of £100 that month and another the next, I told her we couldn’t afford it and she left. She then telephoned by partner and told him I had agreed to pay the £100!
She has now sent a notice which says the rent will be increased by £30 per month from January, which means we will now have to pay £70 extra per month.
We have told her that we cannot afford this but she says that the property is worth more than we are paying and we should look for somewhere else to live if we are not happy. She is also saying that she never agreed to the timescale of the repayment plan and is still insistent I agreed to pay two lots of £100.
We are furious and feel that we are being harassed into paying money we cannot afford or leaving our home. Is there anything we can do to stop this rent increase? We have written proof that we have entered into a repayment plan to end September 2014.
Whether the rent increase is valid or not will depend on the circumstances.
During the fixed term of your tenancy
Are you still within the fixed term of your tenancy agreement? If so, the landlord cannot increase the rent unless there is a clause in your tenancy agreement which authorises her to do this.
Even then, the increase will only be valid if the clause is properly drafted. A clause which allows her to increase the rent whenever she wants to whatever she wants (for example) will be unfair under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations.
After the fixed term of your tenancy
If the fixed term of your contract has ended then be aware you will be vulnerable to eviction anyway under s21 subject to her serving a two month section 21 notice.
There is a form of notice which your landlord can use to increase your tent during a periodic tenancy (but NOT during the fixed term) which comes under s13 of the Housing Act 1988. It is in a prescribed form and gives you notice that if you consider the rent is not a market rent, you can refer it to the rent assessment committee for review.
If this special form of notice is not used then the notice used by your landlord is probably invalid.
What your landlord CANNOT do is just serve an arbitrary notice or letter on you just increasing your rent.
Unless the rent is increased either under a clause in your tenancy agreement during the fixed term of your tenancy, or via the special notice period after your fixed term has ended – the rent can ONLY be increased by agreement with you.
You will find more information on this page.