The majority of renters have seen their rents increase over the past year. Here's what you need to know about your rights.
A new report shows that more than half of private rented properties in England have faced price hikes over the past year.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that approximately 20% of properties surveyed saw their monthly rent increase 10% or more between February 2022 and February 2023.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that one in five of the properties it surveyed experienced a 10% or greater increase in monthly rent between February 2022 and February 2023.
The majority of homes surveyed saw a rent increase
The Office for National Statistics has tracked rental price changes in the UK over time.
The survey found that the average private-rented property in England saw its price increase by 2.5% between February 2022 and February 2023, compared with 1.7% the year before.
Rising gas prices increased the average cost of a hike by 9.6% in the past year, according to the ONS.
Across the country, the average price of renting a home increased by 12% over the year. In London, however, rents rose by more than twice that figure, with an increase of 24% recorded between 2008 and 2009.
The remaining 46.6% of properties saw no change in price, while just 2.8% had seen a decrease in rent.
The ONS points out that the figures do not show how many tenants saw a rise or reduction in rental costs. Instead, they reveal how rent fees at properties have altered.
Based on data from the Office for National Statistics, shows the percentage of privately rented homes in each region that experienced rent increases during February.
The London rental market is notoriously difficult.
The London region saw the highest proportion of respondents reporting an increase in their earnings, at 66.8%. This was well above the England average of 50.6%.
Sarah Coles, head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: 'The figures in London are particularly painful, with average rents rising 12%.
The high proportion of private renters in London contributes to a higher level of homelessness in the capital.'
What factors have contributed to the rise in rental prices?
With a shortage of rental homes and a surge in demand since the pandemic, rents have risen dramatically.
According to Zoopla, private supply has grown just 1% since 2016, which is a sharp drop when compared with the 18-month period between 2015 and 2016, when rental stock increased by 33%.
The recent increase in mortgage rates, combined with the impending implementation of new tax laws and energy efficiency requirements, have made it less profitable for many landlords to stay in the rental market.
To make a profit, landlords need to raise rents or sell the property.
Do landlords have the right to raise the rent on their tenants?
Rising rents are a concern for many renters, who face an uncertain future as landlords struggle to cover their costs.
Under section 13 of the Housing Act, a landlord may increase the rent if certain conditions are met. As a tenant, you have rights and it's important to be fully aware of them.
There are different rules for renting in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In this guide we focus on England.
Most tenants have a tenancy agreement called an assured shorthold tenancy. This type of agreement is likely to be either fixed-term or periodic.
If you are in a fixed-term lease (typically six months to one year), the landlord cannot increase your rent until the lease ends.
A rent review clause may allow the landlord to increase your rent mid-lease, so make sure to read the small print.
The landlord must give at least one month's notice of termination, and six months if the contract is for one year.
A periodic tenancy is a rolling contract on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis. Under these arrangements, your landlord cannot normally increase the rent more than once per year without your agreement.
If your landlord wants to increase the rent, they must give you at least one month's notice before the change takes effect.
How much can your landlord legally raise the rent?
The government stipulates that landlords must give tenants three months' notice of any rent increase.
Rent increases must be consistent with market rates. For example, if you're renting for £1,200 per month and similar properties in the area are fetching £1,350 per month, your landlord would be within their rights to ask for an increase of £150 per month.
However, this is not the case for periodic tenancies--or those contracts that come with an end date.
Are you able to reject the rent increase?
Tenants who are unhappy with a proposed rent increase may try to negotiate for a better deal. Some landlords would prefer to slightly decrease the rent increase rather than have to find a new tenant.
If you think your rent is excessive compared with similar properties in your area, you can apply to an independent tribunal. You should do this before the date on which your landlord intends to increase your rent.
In cases of tenancy disputes, it is always best to first attempt to reach an agreement with your landlord. If this is not possible, the tribunal will make a ruling on the matter.
It can take up to 10 weeks for a rent increase to be approved. If it is, you will have to pay the increased amount from the date stated on the section 13 notice.
In the event of a dispute, do you have to pay rent?
If you are challenging a rent increase, you must continue to pay the previous rent until the dispute is resolved.
If you refuse to keep up with your rental payments, your landlord may take legal action against you and evict you from the property.
If you are having trouble paying your rent, here are some steps to take.
If you're having trouble paying your rent or have already missed a payment, contact your landlord immediately.
Landlords do not have to offer support to tenants in arrears, but may be willing to discuss a compromise that will enable you to keep living in the property. Such a compromise could involve reducing your monthly payments for a set period of time while you get on top of your finances.
The Debt Respite Scheme in England and Wales gives tenants a 60-day window during which their landlords cannot take enforcement action.
StepChange, a charity that helps people with debt problems, provides details of how the English scheme works. A similar scheme exists in Scotland.