Can your landlord put up the rent?
Yes, landlords have the right to charge as much as they like for their property.
If you have signed a fixed term tenancy agreement, usually for a period of 6 or 12 months, your landlord cannot increase the rent during that time without your consent.
If your tenancy is ending and you have not signed a new contract your landlord can issue a 'notice of increase' giving you at least a months' notice of a rent increase.
Rental reviews were written into your original tenancy agreement. If this is the case it will detail how often the rent can be changed and how the new level will be set.
You should refer to your original rental agreement if you are unsure if you agreed to rental reviews when you signed the contract.
What can you do?
Negotiate: Try and negotiate directly with your landlord to find a way to agree on a new price which suits both parties.
Compare prices elsewhere: Look at how much a similar property would cost to rent in the same area and use this as a negotiating tool to lower your rent.
Ask for extra benefits: You can try and negotiate the inclusion of some household bills, like water, gas and telephone.
Ask for work to be done: You could ask for jobs to be completed before you start paying the higher rent.
Can you complain?
Yes, you can refer your case to your local First-tier tribunal chamber (Residential Property).
You can apply to the tribunal by completing a form. You have to do this before paying the new rent amount, otherwise it will be treated as you accepting the rent increase.
You will need to give documents supporting your claim that the increase is unfair; for example, any evidence of rent for similar properties in your area.
What are the exceptions?
You have a live in landlord
This means your rights to refuse an increase in rent are much more limited. In most cases it will simply be a case of pay the increased rent or move out.
You are a regulated tenant
If you moved into your rental property before 15th January 1989 then you may have a regulated tenancy.
This means you have more rights if your landlord decides they want to charge more for your rent, however they must ask an independent rent officer to set a fair rent amount for your next 12 months.
If you believe that you may be a regulated tenant or you are unsure of what type of tenancy you hold you should refer to your rental contract.
What if you cannot renegotiate?
Share your property
If your landlord is insistent that your rent is increased and you want to stay in your home you could consider sharing your property and splitting the rent.
However, you will need to speak to your landlord and get their agreement and discuss if a new rental contract including the new tenant is required.
You may be able to get some financial help if you are on a low income and will struggle to pay your new rent.
There are also a number of charities that can help you to review your options if you are facing an unaffordable rent hike, such as:
Finding somewhere nearby of a similar quality, size, and price would be ideal, however you may have to look further afield or at different types of properties to keep your rent down.
Property sites let you search local estate agents for listed properties that meet your needs, these sites include:
Your landlord upping the rent may provide a good opportunity to review your long terms plans.
However, a mortgage is a much bigger commitment than renting so you will need to make sure you can afford the repayments for the foreseeable future before signing on the dotted line.