Question: I have tenants on an assured shorthold tenancy which was for a fixed term of a year. They have been with me for 18 months, so can I now increase the rent?
Answer: During the fixed term of an assured shorthold tenancy, the rent is fixed at an agreed rate. However, once the fixed term ends, the tenants have the right to remain in occupation under a "statutory periodic tenancy". The rent under that statutory tenancy can be reviewed - and increased.
So, first, try to agree a rent increase with your tenants. There is nothing to stop you doing this, and from the point of view of your relationship with them, that is always the best way forward. If you want to, you could serve notice (in a particular form) on your tenants increasing the rent.
But if you do that, one of the following three things will happen:
1. No further action will be taken and the rent you set out in the notice will automatically become the new rent, after a specified period of time passes.
2. You'll agree to a different figure after negotiation with your tenants and that will be their new rent.
3. Your tenants will refer the matter to the rent assessment committee, which determines an appropriate rent level.
Given that assured shorthold tenancies can be ended relatively easily, simply by serving notice, the second, more formal process is rarely required when it comes to increasing the rent.
So speak to your tenants and try to agree the new rent with them, if that is at all possible.
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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email email@example.com. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.
Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP www.thrings.com.