Negotiating a rent increase

Q: I’m a tenant about to renew my contract, however my landlord wants to increase the rent – is this normal? Do I have room to negotiate at all?

A: It’s not uncommon for a landlord to request a rent increase when your tenancy comes to an end and needs to be renewed. Some tenants agree to rent increases as they assume they can’t negotiate, but this isn’t the case – especially if you’ve been a good tenant, for example, you’ve always paid your rent on time, you’ve looked after the property and you haven’t had any major disputes with your landlord.

Some tenants do try to avoid rent rises by negotiating a longer tenancy at the outset which outlines that no rent increase will be applied in the second year. However, many landlords are reluctant to agree to fix the rental price for two years, and they may also be wary about committing to an unknown tenant for more than a year. In my opinion, you’re sometimes better off agreeing a one year tenancy, proving that you’re a great tenant, and then trying to renew your tenancy with no rent increase.

There are some big advantages for a landlord to keep an existing tenant in place – a change of tenant is quite expensive as the landlord needs to pay a letting agent fee to find a new tenant (if they’re using an agent), as well as an inventory clerk to check the tenant in, plus they may face a void period in between tenancies and so on. We manage lots of properties on behalf of landlords and from experience, most would prefer to keep an existing tenant in place at the same or a similar rent, rather than find a replacement. It’s also a known quantity too, as there is always risk associated with a new tenant as the landlord has no guarantee that they’ll take care of the property or pay rent on time, so the landlord will be much more amenable if there’s a good history with you already.

My advice is to speak to your landlord, or the property management company in place, and confirm that you’d like to renew but you can’t afford a rent increase. Rents in London have remained quite flat over the past year, so most sensible landlords will recognise this.

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