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Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats

Rent Increases

Assured Tenancies

During the fixed term part of the tenancy the express provisions of the lease or tenancy agreement determine how much rent is paid and if the rent can be increased. Express clauses that state if and how much the rent can be increased are called 'rent review clauses'.

In periodic tenancies the landlord has the right to increase the rent subject to the contractually agreed rent increase provisions, if there are any. The landlord must serve the notice to increase rent in the prescribed form and give at least one month or more notice time, depending on the length of the periodic term. Tenants have the right to refer to the Residential Property Tribunal in England to have the open market rent assessed for the property if they feel the landlord's proposed rent increase is disproportionate.

Assured Shorthold Tenancies

Similar to Assured Tenancies the express provisions of the lease or tenancy agreement determine the amount of rent during the fixed term. The landlord cannot increase the rent in this time unless the tenancy agreements expressly allows this or the tenant consents to the increase.

For periodic tenancies the landlord can propose an increased rent. Tenants have the right to ask the Residential Property Tribunal in England to have the open market rent assessed for the property and determine a reasonable amount of rent. However the landlord is not obliged to apply the Tribunal's determined rent and can simply terminate the tenancy giving the proper notice period and then let the property to someone else who is willing to pay the higher rent.

Termination of Tenancies by the Landlord

Assured Tenancies - tenancies granted between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997

During the fixed term of an Assured Tenancy landlords cannot end the tenancy unless they have a court order for possession or they can rely on an express term in the tenancy agreement to end the tenancy, such as a break clause.

After the end of a fixed term tenancy the tenant has the right to remain in the property unless the landlord has a valid ground of possession. The tenancy then becomes a statutory periodic tenancy in which the terms of the tenancy agreement continue to apply but there is no set end date to the tenancy. The landlord has to serve a court order for possession to end this and any notice to terminate without court order is of no effect. Grounds for posession are listed in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988.

Assured Shorthold Tenancies - tenancies granted on or after 28 February 1997

The landlord has the right to terminate the tenancy at the end of the fixed term with at least two months' notice. If the tenancy is shorter than six months the landlord can terminate it six months after the tenancy started, again with two months' notice. If the landlord has not served notice and the tenant would like to remain at the property the tenancy turns in to a statutory periodic tenancy. Tenants should check the provisions of their tenancy agreements.

For instance there is commonly an express provision in the tenancy agreement that the tenancy will end once the fixed term ends. Alternatively it is common to have an express provision in the tenancy agreement that the tenancy becomes a contractual periodic tenancy after expiry of the fixed term.

I'm not a celebrity but I want to get out of here

Tenants can end Assured Tenancies after the fixed term ends. Check the tenancy agreement to see if notice must be given to do so.

Tenants may also end a tenancy before the end of a fixed term if the tenancy agreement contains a break clause. Check the express provisions of the tenancy agreement.

Hansel and Gretel

Sometimes it's best to get out.

I want my deposit back

Landlords have the right to ask tenants for a deposit at the beginning of a tenancy. Since 6 April 2007, deposits must be protected in a government approved tenancy deposit scheme. Note that the money taken as a deposit belongs to the tenant until the end of tenancy, not to the landlord. At the end of the tenancy, this sum of money can be used by the landlord if tenants do not pay all of their rent or to pay for costs of fixing the property where tenants caused damage. However, deductions from the deposit must be reasonable. The onus is on the landlord to demonstrate that any claims and deductions from the tenant's deposit are justified.

Tenants find themselves frequently in disputes with landlords over the return of their deposit at the end of a tenancy. Tenants should know that landlords cannot apply unlimited discretion as to what to deduct from the deposits.

Agency Charges: It is common for agencies to charge fees. In theory, the deposit can only be used to compensate for breaches of the tenancy agreement. However, agents often incorporate standard agency fee clauses either directly or via their own standard terms and conditions into the tenancy agreement. Where agents want to deduct outstanding fees from deposits, the fees must be proportionate; they cannot be claimed from the deposit where they are unfair and unreasonable.

Cleaning Charges: Landlords can charge for cleaning where appropriate. The charges need to be proportionate to the type of the property and the state it was in at the beginning of the tenancy. Landlords need to record the cleanliness of the property in detail at the beginning and at the end of the tenancy in order to justify such costs. Landlords should provide receipts of cleaning services that reflect the location and market rate for such services.

Council tax/Utility bills: These are most commonly in the name of the tenant and costs in this respect should not be deducted from the deposit unless the landlord can show that such services were not transferred into the tenant's name and there are outstanding costs.

Rent arrears: Landlords can deduct outstanding rents from deposits. It is crucial that both parties keep track of rent payments to ensure tenants are not overcharged.

Replacements: Landlords have the right to be compensated for replacement of damaged items. The replacement must be reasonable and proportionate to the damage attributable to the tenant in excess of 'fair wear and tear'. The term 'fair wear and tear' has been defined as 'reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces'. Each situation has to be judged individually. The following factors are taken into account:

Landlords are not entitled to be compensated for an improvement of the property at the tenant's expense. Even where landlords have to replace items they rarely can claim the full cost of replacement. For instance landlords cannot claim the replacement costs of a cheap carpet that was already 10 years old when the tenant moved in. However landlords can, for example, claim part of the replacement costs of a damaged carpet with an expected five year lifespan that was brand new at the beginning of a three year tenancy. In this case it would be proportionate for the landlord to claim 40% of the replacement costs back.

Tenants are advised to keep a good record of the state of the flat, including photo and video evidence, an inventory, and receipts, quotations and estimates of all work done during the tenancy. The evidence should be clearly dated and signed by all parties to avoid disputes. At the end of a tenancy, tenants should ensure a proper check-out process has been undertaken that records the state of the flat. Tenants should add their own comments where they disagree with the landlord as part of that process.

Challenging Landlord's deductions from Deposits

Tenants can challenge landlords' claims of compensation. The first step should be to try and settle the dispute amicably. The landlord should provide evidence of costs incurred (request to see receipts) and parties should try to negotiate an agreement. If negotiations proof unsuccessful, tenants can raise the dispute with their relevant tenancy protection scheme. Tenancy protection schemes have their own dispute resolution procedures and often include adjudication services. Adjudicators are independent and base their decisions on evidence.

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