Here is a question to the blog clinic from Sharon (not her real name) who is a tenant
My lease expires shortly and the landlord wants to put my rent up 10% which is way more than I can afford.
Can she do this?
In addition we have very large cracks running all down one side of the house and a surveyor said it was probably subsidence (which she denies and says it’s fine) – can we use this to keep the rent reasonable as she is not intending to fix it?
At the moment, there is not a huge amount you can do other than try to negotiate her down. You have the right to refuse to sign a tenancy agreement at a higher rent, but she will ultimately have the right to serve a section 21 notice on you and (subject to the notice being valid) evict you, so she can put in a new tenant paying a higher rent.
Whether she does this or not will depend on how much she needs the higher rent, how easy the house will be to re-let, how good a tenant you are, etc. Note that she will not be able to serve a valid section 21 notice if she has not dealt with your deposit properly, so check that.
NB Many landlords are looking to increase rents to compensate them for the new tax laws which will start coming into force soon.
The new anti-retaliatory eviction rules
The situation will be different if you sign a new tenancy agreement as you will then, in future, have the benefit of the anti-retaliatory eviction rules which came in on 1 October 2015.
Then, if you make a complaint about the condition of the property, which is not resolved, AND if you then complain to the Local Authority and they agree and serve an improvement notice on her, then any section 21 notice she served for the next six months will be invalid.
The Local Authority will be working under a system called the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, which looks at 29 ‘hazards’ – one of which is structural collapse (hazard 29). If your cracks are due to structural issues, they may well feel that this justifies service of a notice.
However, you will only have the benefit of this protection if your tenancy was started or renewed on or after 1 October 2015.