TenantsTips / Australia / Can the landlord increase my rent

Can the landlord increase my rent

Rent can be increased during a tenancy to keep in fitting with the current economic trends. A landlord/agent may increase the amount of rent you pay provided that a rent increase is permitted under your tenancy agreement and they give you correct written notice of the increase.

How often can rent be increased?

How often your rent can be increased depends on the type of tenancy agreement you have.

A fixed-term agreement is for a specified period (e.g. 6 months). A periodic agreement is one where the fixed term has expired or no fixed term is specified. If you have a fixed term agreement of less than two years there is no limit to the amount of increases that can be made. However, the landlord/agent can only increase the rent if your agreement sets out the amount of the increase or the method of calculating it.

If you have a fixed term agreement of more than two years, only one increase per year is permitted. If you have a periodic agreement there is again no limit placed on rent increases.

How much notice should be given to increase the rent?

The landlord/agent must give you 60 days written notice of a rent increase.

The notice must specify the increased rent and the date from which the increased rent applies. If your landlord sends your notice by mail an extra 4 working days for delivery must be allowed. Even if details of the rent increase are set out in your tenancy agreement, your landlord is obliged to give you 60 days written notice before the rent can be increased.

What should I do if I haven’t been given the correct notice?

If your landlord fails to give you notice (60 days) and/or you do not receive a written notice you are not obliged to pay the increase. In this case you should write to the landlord/agent explaining that the notice is incorrect and continue to pay your current rent. If the landlord/agent still wants to go ahead with an increase, they must issue a new notice.

What should I do if I think a rent increase is unfair?

If you think a rent increase is unfair you can negotiate with the landlord/agent to lower or withdraw the increase, and/or apply to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) for an order stating that the new rent is excessive. You should make an application within 30 days of receiving a rent-increase notice.

Can I negotiate a smaller rent increase?

Ask for a meeting with your landlord or agent, this will give you the opportunity to discuss the matter. You can offer to pay a little extra rent per week or to pay the increase gradually. If your landlord seems interested, write up a proposal outlining a time frame for the rise. You may also make an application to the CTTT in case you cannot negotiate a deal with your landlord.

Applying for an excessive rent order:

If the CTTT considers a rent increase to be unfair or too high, it will make an excessive rent order.

The order will specify the following:

 

  • The maximum amount which is considered fair.
  • The day from which the maximum rent applies (for a period of up to 12 months).

 

When deciding if a rent increase is excessive, the CTTT will take into account:

 

  • Rents for similar sized properties in the same area.
  • When the last increase was made.
  • The landlord’s finances in regards to the tenancy.
  • Goods, services or facilities provided in conjunction with the property.
  • The state of repair of the premises.
  • Any work undertaken in the property.
  • Any additional information relevant to the case.

 

Your income or whether you can afford the increase is not taken into account by the CTTT as these details are not relevant to the case.

Preparing for an excessive rent case:

When preparing for an excessive rent case hearing you should gather as much evidence to support your argument. You will have the opportunity to present this at a tribunal hearing. The following list details some of the things that will be taken into account as evidence.

 

  • Make a note of all rent increases since your tenancy began.
  • Refer to the latest Rent and Sales Report from the Housing NSW website (www.housing.nsw.gov.au), which has the average rents in every local government area in NSW.
  • Look at similar properties in your area, take photos and gather evidence of the rent rates of these. This information can be collated from real estate agent listings or statutory declarations from current tenants.
  • Make a list of repairs done by the landlord (if any).
  • File any records of any maintenance undertaken on the property with the landlord’s consent.
  • Take photographs as evidence of the state of the property.
  • Find out if council and water rates have increased in recent years. Get this in writing if possible (in case the landlord claims increased charges as a reason for the rent increase).

 

Housing NSW and AHO tenancies:

If you are a Housing NSW or Aboriginal Housing tenant you should be aware that the usual rent increase policies do not apply. These organizations can change your rent rebate without giving you 60 days notice. To dispute a change to your rent rebate, get in touch with the Housing Appeals Committee instead of the CTTT. However, if your rent rebate is stopped, you can make an application to the CTTT for an excessive rent order.



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