Is your rent going up? Here's everything you need to know about your rights as a renter

People are reporting rent increases of almost £3,400 a year, according to The London Renters Union.
Residential living in North London UK
Residential living in North London, UKKarl Hendon

If your tenancy is up for renewal, you might be in a situation – along with thousands in the UK –where your rent has increased. 

Analysis by The Guardian has found that asking rent prices on new house listings have increased by almost a third since 2019, with some tenants facing rent increases of up to 60%. For many of us, renting has become plain unaffordable – especially in the context of the ongoing cost of living crisis

The London Renters Union cites that their members are experiencing rent increases of as much as 50%, noting on their website that “Landlords and estate agents are using the cost of living crisis as an excuse to squeeze tenants and boost profits.” 

Over the weekend (3-4 December), tenants from Manchester and London took part in protests to demand government action to protect tenants from soaring rent prices, as well as no-fault evictions, which were temporarily banned during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Michael Gove, the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, is under increasing pressure to finally ban no-fault evictions, which can be used by landlords wanting to hike their rent prices. 

Beyond taking to the streets – which is absolutely an option – educating yourself about your rights as a renter is an essential step towards understanding the crisis and what to do if your rent goes up. GLAMOUR spoke to Anny Cullum, research and policy officer at ACORN – a renter's union, to find out everything you need to know about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, what happens if your rent increases, and what to do if your landlord asks you to leave. 

What are my responsibilities as a tenant?

“There are many responsibilities a tenant has, but the most notable is that you have a responsibility to take good care of the property, report any problems or repairs that need doing to the landlord or agency, pay the agreed rent, and pay bills (unless they are included). Other responsibilities should be laid out in your tenancy agreement.”

What are my basic rights as a tenant?

"You have the right to live in a property that is safe and in a good state of repair, have your deposit returned when the tenancy ends unless there is a genuine reason, know who your landlord is, and you have rights around how and when evictions can be carried out. 

“You also have a right to ‘safe and quiet enjoyment’ of your home, which means your landlords cannot just turn up unannounced, should give you 24 hours' notice of any times they want to come round and agree a different time with you if what they’ve suggested isn’t convenient. It’s important that you’re aware of these (and other) rights as landlords often try to ignore them and presume that their tenants don’t know their rights – which is sadly often the case.”

Is my landlord allowed to increase my rent? If so, by how much?

"If you are not in a fixed-term contract (i.e. a tenancy agreement which runs out on a specific date) then your landlord can increase your rent at any time, and there is no maximum to how much this can go up. 

"If you are in a fixed-term contract, your landlord can only increase your rent if there is a specific clause written down in your tenancy agreement. If you think the increase is unfair, then you can take your landlord to what’s called a First Tier Tribunal, where a panel will compare your proposed new rent to how much similar homes are being rented out for in the local area; they will then set how much your rent should be. 

“You can also get in touch with a tenants union who can help you fight to ensure your landlord does not put the rent up.”

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What do I do if I think my landlord is breaking the law?

"You should report any suspected law-breaking on the part of your landlord to your local council’s housing team. Unfortunately, these teams have seen a lot of funding cuts over the last decade, so we recommend that you join ACORN or another tenant union to get support if you are worried about your landlord not fixing things, trying to keep your deposit, or behaving in a way which makes you uncomfortable. 

“Landlords rely on their tenants being isolated when trying to get away with things like that, but with a union behind you – standing together – we can make sure you’re not isolated.”

Am I allowed pets in a rental property?

"The government has moved towards making it easier for tenants to have pets by introducing a model tenancy agreement. Under this, consent for pets will be the default position, and landlords must object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant and provide a good reason. 

“This, however, does not mean that your landlord cannot disagree with you having a pet, and they, unfortunately do not have to use the model tenancy agreement.”

What rights do I have if my landlord asks me to leave?

"England and Wales have some of the harshest laws around eviction across Europe for tenants, and we are campaigning to get these changed, but it's important to know that there are steps your landlord legally has to take before you have to leave.

If you don’t live with your landlord, then there is a specific legal process your landlord needs to follow to ask you to leave your home. If you do live with your landlord, then unfortunately, you don’t have very many rights at all, but your landlord should give you a month to move out.

"If you don’t live with your landlord, then he or she hasn’t officially asked you to leave until they issue you with a legal eviction notice, which will usually be either what’s called a Section 21 ‘no fault’ notice (where they don’t have to give a reason) or another type of notice where they spell out a reason they want you to go (this could be if you haven’t paid the rent for more than 2 months, or for anti-social behaviour). Lots of people think they have to leave because their landlord has asked them to, but this isn’t the case.

"We’ll talk about the Section 21 eviction notice as it's by far the most common. This notice (which will come through the post) will include a date 2 months in the future when the landlord is asking you to leave by. This does not mean you have to leave by that date, this means that if you don’t leave by then, the landlord can start applying to a court to evict you. If you stay past the date on the Section 21 letter, then the landlord can apply to the court to have you removed. It usually takes a couple of months after the original date expires for a landlord to get a court date and for a judge to approve the eviction (or not).

"Unfortunately as long as the landlord has done all the paperwork correctly, then a judge has to grant them the eviction, regardless of your personal circumstances. That said, it's worth knowing that there are lots of things that make an eviction invalid and mean it won’t be passed by a judge. This includes the landlord not protecting your deposit properly and not organising a gas safety check. If you get an eviction notice, you should go online and check out all the different requirements to see whether your landlord’s eviction notice will be valid in the first place.

"If you don’t leave after the court date, then the landlord can get a bailiff to come round to evict you. If this happens, you will receive a letter with the time and date they intend to come around. It's important to know that you can be liable for court costs if an eviction case goes to court and is granted. 

But it’s equally important to know that Section 21 evictions can be resisted. ACORN – and other tenants unions – utilise people power and the power of our communities to resist and stop evictions, so you should join one and get in touch if you’re in that situation.

For more from Glamour UK's Lucy Morgan, follow her on Instagram @lucyalexxandra.