Your landlord should be charging you a ‘market rent'. Market rents are the going rate and are affected by the availability and cost of other similar accommodation in the area.
If you think that your rent is excessive compared to rents on similar properties in you area, then you have the right to apply to the Rent Assessment Committee (RAC) once, within six months of the beginning of the original tenancy.
Complaint about excessive rent
An application can't be made to the RAC if the original tenancy has ended and been replaced, and it's more than six months since the start date of the original tenancy.
But you should bear in mind that assured shorthold tenants don’t have much protection from eviction.
Your landlord may prefer to just ‘evict’ you legally at the end of your fixed-term rather than reduce the amount of rent that he wants to charge you.
You need to give careful consideration and obtain advice before taking any action.
Also, you need to bear in mind that the Rent Assessment Committee may decide to put the rent up if they think it is lower than comparable properties in the area.
Many landlords increase the rent when they renew a tenant’s agreement. And in reality, you don't have much power to stop your landlord from doing this.
As assured shorthold tenants can be evicted without a legal reason, the landlord may decide to find a new tenant if you won’t agree to pay the increased rent.
If you can't afford the rent increase and you can't get the landlord to agree to cheaper rent, then you'll have to look for somewhere else to live.
Fixed-term vs periodic contract
The rules on how and when tenants’ rent can be increased often depend on whether your agreement is for a fixed term (ie for a fixed period of time such as six months) or periodic (ie rolling from week to week or month to month).
If you have a fixed-term tenancy, then your landlord can't normally increase the rent until the fixed-term ends.
The only exceptions to this are if you agree to the increase, or if there's a clause if your tenancy agreement saying your rent can be increased.
Once the fixed-term has ended and the tenancy becomes a periodic tenancy, then most private tenants will find it difficult to argue against rent increases.
The landlord may simply choose to evict you using the appropriate procedure, rather than forego the rent increase.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has produced a How to Rent guide, which includes some useful tips for both landlords and tenants.
Private Residential Tenancy in Scotland
The new Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) in Scotland has been introduced under the Private Housing Tenancies Scotland Act 2016. It came into force on 1 December 2017.
What you need to know about the new tenancy in Scotland:
- Existing tenancies will not change automatically. They will carry on until the tenant or the landlord brings it to an end by serving notice.
- The new PRT will have no end date. It can only be terminated by a tenant giving written notice to their landlord or by the landlord using one of 18 grounds for eviction.
- Tenants will have the right to challenge a wrongful termination.
- Landlords can only increase rent once a year. They are also required to give tenants three months’ written notice of any rise.
- Tenants can challenge a rise in rent if they think it is unfair.
- Read the guides for tenants to find out more about the changes.
- Read Shelter’s new online enquiry system (Ailsa) that helps explain the new tenancy in Scotland.