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Excessive Rent increase

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96 views 3 replies latest reply: 15 March 2017
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Tenant

My partner and I took out a joint rental tenancy on our first home together with our three young teenagers.

The house we found was on the letting market for £2850.00 per month and after our first offer of £2500.00 was refused we agreed to a rental fee of £2600.00 per month.  We agreed a years tenacy with a 6 month clause and was of the understanding from the property’s management team that the owner was looking for a long let.  This suited us perfectly as we where looking for 18 months to 2 years in the property.

We moved in November 2016 and this week the propertys management contacted us to discuss our furture plans and also to let us know the landlord wished to increase the rent to £3300.00 per month and to lock us into a 2 year agreement.

Obviously an increase of £700.00 per month is excessive and I wanted to know if anyone can shed any light on where we stand.  It appears to me that this was the landlords intention all along and at no point was there ever any hint of such a hike or a discussion that this is the planned outlook from the landlord.  We are 3 months into the tenancy and my concern is for the welfare of my son who is about to sit his mocks and the stress this would cause him.

We where expecting a rent increase say after a year but 3 months into an agreement seems rather heavy handed and I wanted to ask what rights do we have, if any.

Would I be able to seek compensation from the landlord for the upheaval and stress to my family because of the request for such an increase in rent as this is not something that we can afford if he decides to end our tenancy.

Any advice would be greatly appreicated.

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Tenant

Let me start off on the fact that if you were looking for a long let, 12 month tenancy with a 6 month break clause was not the best deal you could have got. 

Of course, you may argue that you were not sure that you would like to stay in this particular property, if it didn’t fit your family needs, so a 6 month break clause is an option for you as well. 

However, given your current situation it gives a lot more power to your landlord than it gives you. 

It would appear that the landlord’s, or the agent’s, plan was to all along hook somebody up and then use the provided legal tools to extort them for more money. 

How that works:

You’ve signed a 12 month fixed term assured shorthold tenancy. During the fixed term, neither party can change the conditions of the contract without explicit agreement of the other party. This means that your landlord CANNOT increase your rent without your consent. They can’t do it in the 3rd month and they can’t do it in the 11th month. They may only do it when the fixed term has expired, by serving you a Section 13 notice of rent increase. 

This means that your landlord CANNOT increase your rent without your consent. They can’t do it in the 3rd month and they can’t do it in the 11th month. They may only do it when the fixed term has expired, by serving you a Section 13 notice of rent increase. 

However, because you also agreed to have a 6 month break clause, your landlord can now effectively extort you by threatening to invoke that clause and force you to move your family of 5 again. 

Obviously, this will cause you tremendous stress as you have to start looking for a next property right now. However, it will also cost you thousands in moving costs. 

What you can do:

Do you have this communication in writing ? Email ? 

If not, your first job should be to get some material evidence. Then, you want to find yourself a good solicitor and explore what options are there to appeal the use of the break clause as an unfair practice to increase the rent by 27% after the first quarter of the fixed term tenancy. 

Just to give an example: a 10% increase after 12 months of tenancy is considered fair, when this is supported by the local property market. Another way to measure this is when the total rent after the increase is more than 10% higher than rent of comparable properties in your local area. 

Depending on what your solicitor advises you there are several options:

1. Present this case to your local council and say your landlord is using their legal rights to extort your for an unfair amount of rent DURING your fixed term. I don’t know what they will tell you, but it’s worth talking to…maybe…

2. If you have a strong claim to negate the break clause, you can just sit on your buts and decline the increase. When the landlord tries to evict you, you can delay until they go to court and then negate their break clause. Obviously, you can only do this when your solicitor is SURE that the judge will rule in your favour, or otherwise you may become homeless effectively. 

3. You negotiate with your landlord to not increase your rent during the fixed term, after which you would leave. If your solicitor can provide similarly resolved cases, you may be able to convince your landlord that you have a strong claim and they may lose a lot of money trying to evict you through the courts. 

5. You start looking for a property now and use the break clause to escape this property and this landlord all the while you claim compensation through the courts for their attempt to extort you through the provided legal tools. I don’t know how likely it is to win such a case, but your solicitor will provide more insight.

Make sure to get something in writing to prove the accusations.  

Please explore our resources section, where you can  find links and information on all the above mentioned including some organisations that provide free and low cost legal help – www.thetenantsvoice.co.uk/your_home/tenant-resources/

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Tenant

On second thought, could it be that this landlord is planning to raise your rent AFTER your current fixed term ? 

While this doesn’t explain 700 pound increase, it also makes the situation less serious because you get to stay the full year and move when it expires.

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Tenant

Pamela, I genuinely feel for you, and your son. Of course you need stabilty as does your son at a time like this. Reading posts like this I seriously feel the whole “private renting sector” needs a complete overall and more stringent controls in place. Yes, private renting is needed in certain situations, but personally; I’m sick of seeing and reading about how “HOMES” are assets, investments, part of the reason the renting sector is skewed! Good luck with your landlord.

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