Rent and rent increases

Different renting agreements have different rules about how much rent should be charged and when the amount can be increased.

Most rents charged by community landlords are lower than rents for similar private rented properties.

Private landlords

Rent and rent increases if you have a private landlord

Rents in the private sector tend to be higher than community landlord rents, but different occupation contracts have different rules on when your rent can be increased. If you have a standard occupation contract with a private landlord, your landlord will be charging you a ‘market rent’. Market rents are affected by the availability and cost of other similar accommodation in the area.

Before moving in
Before you move into a privately rented home or sign a contract, you should ask your landlord or letting agent to confirm in writing:

  • how much rent you will pay and what it includes. Check whether the rent includes bills and council tax and decide whether you can afford it before you sign any contract.
  • when you should pay. Rent is usually paid weekly or monthly in advance, with the first payment due when you move in.
  • how you should pay. Your landlord may prefer you to pay by standing order, cheque, or cash. If you pay cash, always make sure you are given a receipt.
  • any clauses that are in your occupation contract, which allow the rent to be increased.

Have a look at our 10 Top Tips for staying safe renting a property privately.

When can my rent be increased?

Some private contract-holders live in their homes for years without the rent being increased.  The rules depend on whether you have a fixed term standard contract or a periodic standard contract.

How much can my rent be increased by?

If you have a standard occupation contract, there is no limit to how much your rent can be increased by. Most landlords will consider the rents for similar properties in the area when they decide how much rent to ask for. This is known as ‘market rent’. You might be able to negotiate with the landlord or letting agent about the rent before you commit to entering into an occupation contract. Speak to the landlord or letting agent about this.

If you are a regulated tenant, you have more protection against rent increases and can apply for a rent officer to set a limit to how much the landlord can charge (see below)

Fixed term standard contracts

If you have a fixed term standard contract, your landlord cannot increase the rent until after the fixed term has ended unless you agree to it. When the fixed term ends you and your landlord can either:

  • agree to a new fixed term standard contract (called a ‘renewal’ contract). The landlord can then set a new rent amount for the new contract
  • do nothing. This means that you continue as a statutory periodic standard contract-holder. Your landlord then has to follow the rules for rent increases in periodic standard contracts (see below)

If your landlord tells you that they are increasing the rent during a fixed term standard contract, get help. If you start paying the amount that the landlord is proposing, it is likely that you would be deemed to have agreed with the rent increase.

Periodic standard contracts

If you have a periodic standard contract, your landlord must give 2 months’ notice if they want to increase the rent. You must be informed in writing on a RHW12 form. Your rent can’t be increased less than 12 months after the last rent increase. This procedure also applies to converted periodic standard contracts with private landlords.

If your landlord tries to increase the rent without following the procedure described above, it probably won’t be legally binding on you to pay the amount they are asking for unless you agree to it. Remember, if you start paying the rent at the new amount, you will probably be seen as having accepted the rent increase.

Get help if you are unsure whether your landlord has followed the correct procedure, or are worried about being able to afford the new amount.

Can I challenge a rent increase?

It can be difficult to challenge the increase if you are a periodic standard contract-holder because your landlord can evict you quite easily if you don’t agree to pay it. It may be worth negotiating with your landlord to try to agree a lower rent increase. The landlord might consider this because if you had to move out due to the rent being unaffordable they would have to pay the costs of re-letting the property. Alternatively, your landlord may agree to increase the rent in stages over a period of time.

What if I have a converted contract?

If you moved into your home before 1 December 2022 and had an assured or an assured shorthold tenancy with a private landlord, you still have the right to challenge a rent increase by applying to the Rent Assessment Committee (RAC). You must do this within 2 months of receiving the RHW12 notice of a rent increase notice from your landlord. You can download the application form to challenge the rent increase here.

However, be aware that the RAC may even set a higher rent if they find that the rent increase would mean you are paying less rent than other contract-holders living in similar properties.

If you had an assured or assured shorthold tenancy with a private landlord before your agreement converted, and your agreement contained a ‘rent review’ clause, then your landlord should continue to follow the procedure set out in your original assured tenancy agreement

Regulated (or protected) tenants
If your tenancy started before 15 January 1989 you may have a ‘regulated’ or ‘protected’ tenancy. Regulated tenants have a high level of security and are entitled to ‘fair rents’. Both regulated tenants and landlords can apply to Rent officers Wales to set a fair rent. The rent officer sets the maximum that your landlord can charge.

Fair rents can normally be increased once every two years. They can usually only be increased by a certain amount that is calculated using a formula. If your landlord has made substantial improvements to your home, the rent increase may be higher. There is a limit to the size of the increase each time. If you disagree with the fair rent that has been registered you can appeal to a Rent Assessment Committee.

Other tenants or licensees
The vast majority of people renting from private landlords are standard contract. In some circumstances you might be renting from a private landlord and not have an occupation contract. For example, if you are living in your landlords home as a lodger. See here for more information.

If you are not a standard contract-holder, then your landlord should follow the procedure set out in your renting agreement for changing the amount of rent you should pay. If your landlord tries to increase your rent without following the procedure in this agreement, they may be in breach of contract.

If you and your landlord agreed to a fixed term then the landlord shouldn’t increase the rent during the fixed term unless you agree to it. The rent can be increased at any time after the fixed term has ended.

In most cases, if you are a lodger living with your landlord, your landlord can charge you any rent they want and you have no right to challenge this nor any subsequent rent increases, unless you are able to negotiate with your landlord.

Will my Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs be affected?
Yes. If you are claiming Housing Benefit or Universal Credit and your rent is increased, you should inform the council or the DWP straightaway. You will need to provide evidence of the rent increase. Your claim should then be looked at again and you should be told about any new entitlement. If your new entitlement does not cover the whole of your rent, get help. You might be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment to help you.

My landlord won’t accept the rent
If your landlord stops collecting or refuses to accept your rent because of a dispute, you should take steps to protect yourself, since the landlord may try to evict you for non-payment of rent. Write to your landlord stating you wish to pay the rent, and keep a copy of the letter. Also, set up a bank or building society account and pay your rent into it, so that you have the money to pay when the landlord eventually agrees to accept it or if s/he takes you to court on grounds of rent arrears. Do not spend the money or use the account for any other purpose.

Community landlords

Rent and rent increases if your community landlord is a council

Your community landlord decides the amount of rent you have to pay. The rent is usually less than private landlords would charge for a similar property. Your occupation contract will tell when you should pay your rent, and your landlord should give you rent statements, showing how much rent was due and how much rent was paid. It may be possible to pay your rent in different ways, such as in person or through your bank. 

 

How can my rent be increased? 

Your community landlord must give 2 months’ notice if they want to increase the rent. You must be informed in writing on a RHW12 form. Your rent can’t be increased less than 12 months after the last rent increase. Your occupation contract must set out how your rent can be increased. 

Community landlords usually increase rent in line with the rent setting formula set by the Welsh Government. This formula takes into account the Consumer Price Inflation rate from the previous year, which means that the amount of the rent increase can change each year and can be quite high. How much your rent can be increased may vary according to whether you have a secure or standard contract, and whether your housing is classed as ‘social housing’. If you have a secure contract with a community landlord that is classed as ‘social housing’, the amount of rent you pay and any increase should be set according to the Welsh Government Rent and Service Charge Standard 2020-2025.

 If your landlord tries to increase the rent without following the procedure described above, it probably won’t be legally binding on you to pay the amount they are asking for unless you agree to it. Remember, if you start paying the rent at the new amount, you will probably be seen as having accepted the rent increase.  

 Get help if you are unsure whether your landlord has followed the correct procedure or are worried about being able to afford the new amount. 

 

Can I challenge a rent increase? 

It is usually very difficult to challenge rent increases made by community landlords, because there is not usually a right of appeal for secure contract-holders. However, if you have a converted contract and your community landlord is a housing association, you may have the right to challenge a rent increase using a Rent Assessment Committee(see below).

 

What if my home was transferred from the council to a housing association? 

If you are a secure contract-holder and your home was transferred from the council to a housing association (known as a ‘stock transfer’), then you may have been given a rent guarantee. In this situation, your landlord cannot put your rent up above the amount specified in the guarantee. The guarantee may run out after a certain amount of time, so check to see what it says. 

 

 What if I have a converted contract? 

Length of notice to vary rent 

In most cases the procedure for increasing rent for secure contracts (see above) applies to converted secure contracts. The only exception is if you had a secure housing association tenancy before your agreement converted to a secure occupation contract. If you were a secure housing association tenant, your landlord only needs to give a minimum of 4 weeks’ notice to increase your rent. You probably had a secure housing association tenant if you moved into a housing association property before 15 Jan 1989. 

 

Challenging rent increases if you have a converted contract and your landlord is a housing association

If you moved into your home before 1 December 2022 and had an assured or an assured shorthold tenancy with a housing association, you still have the right to challenge a rent increase by applying to the Rent Assessment Committee (RAC). You must do this within 2 months of receiving the RHW12 notice of a rent increase notice from your landlord. You can download the application form to challenge the rent increase here

However, be aware that the RAC may even set a higher rent if they find that the rent increase would mean you are paying less rent than other contract-holders living in similar properties.

 

Service charges 

Your rent may also include charges for services. For example, you are likely to have service charges if you live in a block of flats, for services such as maintenance of common parts, lifts etc. Charges for bills such as utilities or broadband may also be included in the rent amount or service charge. 

Your landlord can only ask for reasonable costs and work in relation to a service charge (e.g. cleaning or maintenance of common parts) must be carried out to a reasonable standard. Demands for payment and notices about any increase must be made in writing. Your occupation contract will probably tell you what service charges apply and how much you will need to pay. 

You should also be given information in writing about your rights in relation to service charges. These rights include:  

  • asking your landlord for a written summary of costs (i.e. the amount of service charge you pay) 
  • inspecting accounts, receipts and other documents in relation to the costs 
  • applying to a tribunal to decide whether you are liable to pay the service charges and how much they should be 
  • applying to a tribunal to vary your contract if it doesn’t include satisfactory information about how service charges are calculated 

You can also raise a complaint with the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, as long as you have used your landlord’s complaints procedure first. It can be very difficult to challenge service charges. You may want to consider forming an association with other contract-holders who are paying similar service charges to you so that you can approach the landlord as a group. For more information, contact LEASE for advice. 

 

What if I’m having problems paying my rent? 

Your rent (and service charges if you are required to pay any) should always be your top financial priority. You could lose your home if you don’t pay. You may be able to claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs to help pay your rent if you are on benefits or have a low income. If you need extra financial help, you may be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment. 

If you’re struggling to pay your rent, or you have already fallen behind, get help quickly. This is especially important if you have an introductory standard or prohibited conduct standard contract, because you can be evicted much more easily than other contract-holders. It is often possible to sort things out if you act quickly. If you don’t do anything, the situation is likely to get worse and you might risk losing your home. See our pages on Arrears and dealing with debt for more advice. 

 

Will my Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs be affected?
Yes. If you are claiming Housing Benefit or Universal Credit and your rent is increased, you should inform the council or the DWP straightaway. You will need to provide evidence of the rent increase. Your claim should then be looked at again and you should be told about any new entitlement. If your new entitlement does not cover the whole of your rent, get help. You might be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment to help you. 

Rent Assessment Committees

If you have a converted secure contract and your landlord is a housing association assured, you have the right to challenge rent increases through the Rent Assessment Committee (RAC), which is part of the Residential Property Tribunal in Wales. The RAC exists to set ‘market rents’ if there is a dispute about a proposed rent increase. They also hear ‘fair rent’ appeals for private renters who have a regulated tenancy. The RAC is usually made up of three people: a lawyer, a property valuer, and a lay person.

Application forms are available on the RAC website.

Once the RAC has received an application from you or your landlord for an assessment of rent, it serves a notice on both parties, allowing for an opportunity to reply in writing or request an oral hearing. The RAC will give you and your landlord notice if there is to be a hearing. Hearings take place in public and both you and your landlord have the right to be represented by a barrister, a solicitor, or another expert such as a housing adviser. It is worth finding someone to represent you.

Both you and your landlord will have the opportunity to give evidence, call upon witnesses, and question the other side. The RAC should give both parties copies of any documents used as evidence at the hearing. Decisions made by the RAC must be given in writing and sent to both you and your landlord. In some circumstances you may be able to appeal against a RAC’s decision. If you want to consider this, get help.

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We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

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This page was last updated on: January 26, 2024

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.