In a meeting with Giles Hunt (NT Land and Estates Director) in January 2022, TANT was told that the NT will be conducting rent reviews again. This follows the 2 year suspension of increases that the NT had agreed to because of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.
Firstly, you need to check your type of tenancy. If you have a Protected or Regulated Tenancy (prior to 1989) there is specific legislation governing rent reviews and you have the right to challenge a rent increase in a Rent Tribunal. If you are an agricultural tenant or business tenant, there is also specific legislation. Please get in touch if you need pointing in the right direction in relation to these tenancies.
In relation to Assured Shorthold Tenancies or Assured Tenancies, the NT can suggest a rent increase, but you do not have to just agree it. As a starting point it is worth checking if your tenancy agreement has a clause about rent increases and, if so, the provisions should be followed. Also check if you have a fixed term or periodic (rolling) tenancy – generally the rent cannot be increased in the fixed term period.
The NT rent review procedure requires the local estate to contact the tenant(s) to make an appointment to discuss any proposed increase before the increase is applied. It is not sufficient for the NT to simply send a letter requiring an increase.
The rent review appointment will often take place at the rented property so that the tenant(s) can raise any issues and repairs that may affect the amount of any proposed increase.
TANT recommends that all tenants prepare for a rent review meeting and the following tips may be of assistance:
- Given the recent increase in fuel costs, have copies of your most recent utility bills to hand so that you can show the real running costs of the property. This should include a copy of the most recent EPC certificate for the property. If you do not have a copy of your EPC you can find it here. If your property does not have an EPC ask the NT to organise one. Whilst listed buildings may be exempt, this does not preclude doing a voluntary EPC. If your property is expensive to heat (perhaps due to poor insulation or single glazed windows) and maintain, this should reduce the market rent.
- Prepare a list of any repair work required at the property that has been reported but remains outstanding because this is relevant to whether your rent will be increased.
- Prepare a list of any refurbishment (rather than repair) required for the property to be of “market quality”, such as bathrooms, kitchens, carpets, heating and general decor making sure that you exclude any items that you are responsible for under the terms of your agreement. If your property is in poor condition or has other issues this should reduce the market rent.
- Research local rents for similar properties in your area. You may find neighbours or local estate agents can help.
- Ask a friend or neighbour attend the meeting with you to take notes. Having someone else with you can often assist in ensuring that nothing is overlooked during the discussion, and you can also check with them should you have any problems remembering the details of the discussion.
- After the meeting, send an email or letter to the member(s) of NT staff that attended, confirming all the points discussed and the agreed actions and conclusions. If sending by letter, we would recommend using registered post or, if by email, add both delivery and read receipts if possible before sending. This correspondence, and any response you receive, could be useful should there be any disagreements about the discussion.
- Do not agree to anything you are not comfortable with or a rent increase you cannot afford. If you are unsure, please seek further advice form the sources below and contact TANT (link).
If you disagree with the proposed rent, or you do not consider that the review process has been followed correctly, contact your local Let Estate in the first instance to raise it with them.
If the NT gives you a section 13 notice, there is a procedure to apply to a tribunal if the rent cannot be agreed. Please see Citizens Advice here.
If you are receiving housing benefit you should advise your local Council of any proposed increase because your benefit may be increased. If you have a low income you may be entitled to discretionary help. Please see here.
TANT is on hand to assist. Please contact us (link). We are monitoring increases to ensure they are fair and reasonable so please do let us know about your experiences.
We appreciate that rent reviews can be quite daunting for many tenants and hope that the above information helps to make the process a little easier.