It is coming to the end of the calendar year; so in addition to getting wrapped up in all things Christmas, many landlords running residential tenancies on April/March financial years need to get on with processing 2024-2025's rent and service charge increases.
Now is the time to start looking at drafting the increase letters and notices – which is not as straightforward an exercise as many assume - and the consequences of getting it wrong, can be very costly for the landlord.
If you have not done so already, it is prudent to put a calendar-based action plan in place – work backwards by timetabling the posting date, board approval date and all other internal mechanisms, and this should stand you in good stead.
Some of the general issues you should look out for include:
- Where your tenancy requires statutory section 13 rent increases, incorrectly drafted notices can cause you to lose an entire year's rent increase (and subsequent years might also be invalid, as they are based on an incorrect starting point). Invalid rent increase notices occur surprisingly often, even in large and experienced landlords, so it is important to avoid being complacent.
- Mixes of tenants, for example:
- Tenants living at a property on a fixed term tenancy where the fixed term is still running, as compared with tenants who have come to the end of their fixed term but who are still living at the property
- Tenants who have/have not signed their tenancy agreement.
Depending on the particular circumstances, these tenancies could need entirely different forms of rent increase notice, even though they relate to comparable properties and the same landlord. It is even possible for different forms of rent increase to be required for the same tenant living at the same property, depending on the stage their tenancy is at.
- Unclear explanations of which charges are being increased.
- Notices which do not fit with the tenancy agreement drafting. This tends to be an issue where there are long-standing tenancies going back over many years, or where various tenancy versions/types are in operation and the system does not account for this (examples could include assured shorthold tenancies and contractual tenancies).
- Illegal rent increase notices which breach registered rent limits.
If we can assist you with any aspect of the increase process, do get in touch – even if it is simply to look over the final increase to ensure it works legally, we would be happy to help.