If you’re looking for a new flat share in 2017, or even if you and your friends are planning on staying put, you should be wary of a potential increase in rent and bills. Here are a few facts and a handy guide on what to watch out for as your lease comes to an end.
The facts on rent increases:
In 2016, it was reported that the cost of rent for student housing had increased by 10%. This came after the warning of a critical shortage of available housing for students in the UK leading to a staggering demand for rooms. Unfortunately, in certain cities, this demand means that some students end the year approximately £600 poorer. The Cut the Rent campaign earlier this year saw students striking for fairer rent prices and for more affordable student housing across the country.
How will I know if my rent is increasing?
By law, it should be stated in your tenancy agreement (given to you when you moved into the property) if and when your rent will increase. If you are living in a property for a periodic tenancy, this is on either a week-by-week or month-by-month basis. However, your landlord should not normally be able to increase your rent more than once a year without your agreement.
On the other hand, for a fixed-term tenancy, that is a tenancy running for a set period, your landlord is only able to increase the rent if you agree. General rules state that landlords must only increase the cost of rent if the tenants are in agreement, and that they must not increase the rent to an unfair or unrealistic amount.
If your landlord wishes to increase your rent, they must follow the procedure as stated in your tenancy agreement. If your agreement/contract does not provide any evidence of this, they are able to renew this at the end of the fixed term with an increased rent. Again, both the tenant(s) and the landlord must agree with this and there must be written consent.
How much notice will I get?
If your rent is increasing, your landlord must give you notice. If you’re currently paying rent weekly or monthly, you should get one month’s notice, and if you have a yearly tenancy, this is increased to six months.
What if I don’t agree?
For certain rent disputes, you can apply to the tribunal to decide. However, this can only be done if you have an assured or assured shorthold tenancy, or if your rent has been increased as part of a ‘section 13 procedure’. This usually occurs when the initial tenancy agreement does not include a section regarding rent increases.
The letter from your landlord regarding your rent increase should state so if that is the case. If the landlord does not issue a section 13 notice, the tenant(s) is not liable to pay the increase in rent. Usually, landlords choose to end the tenancy if a tenant refuses to agree to the rent increase.
What about my bills?
If you’re privately renting then it’s more than likely that you’ll be paying ongoing bills, too. These are usually paid monthly, quarterly or yearly, and if you’re living with others, these can be shared. However, a new year means that the cost of electricity, gas, water and Wi-Fi might increase, and this cannot be helped due to rising wholesale costs.
The best way to reduce the cost of your bills is to shop around for deals on comparison websites to see what’s on offer. Are your bills estimated? If so, this can often mean you’re paying more, especially in the summer months when you probably won’t use as much energy. Make sure you get your supplier to check your meters regularly.
As with everything, always make sure you read the small print when you’re signing a tenancy agreement or starting a new account with an energy provider. Each year, the cost of living goes up and, although this is unavoidable, it doesn’t mean that you should be worrying about money non-stop. So, keep these savvy suggestions in mind!