Q. I rent out a flat to tenants under an assured shorthold tenancy. I wrote to them two months ago telling them that the rent would be going up the following month but they are still paying the old rent. What can I do?
A. It sounds as if the rent increase may be invalid, in which case you can’t do anything. Once a tenancy has started you cannot just increase the rent at will. You need to increase via one of the following procedures:
- Getting the tenant to sign a new tenancy agreement with the new rent (this is the most common way rent is increased)
- If the tenancy fixed term has not ended yet – by following the procedure set out in a valid ‘rent review clause’ in your tenancy agreement (if there is no rent review clause then you will not be able to increase the rent during the fixed term)
- If the tenancy is a periodic one, by serving the prescribed Form for increasing rent under section 13 of the Housing Act 1988. This procedure can be used once every 12 years. Tenants have the right to refer the rent to the First Tier Tribunal if they consider the increase is for more than a market rent.
- By agreement with the tenant – for example by getting them to sign a letter confirming that they agree to the rent increase. However, it is better if possible to use one of the other procedures.
Q. My tenant’s tenancy is up for renewal but they are refusing to agree to the new rent saying that they can’t afford it. What can I do if they don’t sign the new tenancy agreement?