How often can your landlord increase your rent?

You’ve found a great place, in the right location with affordable rent. But how long will the rent stay that way? We look at how often your landlord can raise the rent.

High property values mean that one-third of Australians rent their home these days, up from one in four in the 1990s.

Renting can have its pluses including flexibility about where you live and more freedom to move. But it can also mean rent rises.

A Productivity Commission report found that over the past 20 years, rents have far outpaced inflation. And it’s not just an uptick in rent that can mean digging deeper into your hip pocket. In a number of states including Queensland and the Northern Territory, a rent hike can also mean topping up your bond money.

This may be cold comfort for tenants, but the good news is that landlords have to follow strict rules around how often rent can be increased, and how much notice must be given.

It’s still critical to read the lease document carefully. Don’t just assume it will be the same as others you’ve signed. In most states, landlords are free to add clauses around when the rent can be raised – and by how much. These conditions may be open to negotiation, but if you sign the lease without reading it thoroughly you could be stuck with terms that favour the landlord while leaving you scratching for extra rent money.

The next step is to know what type of lease you have. Most tenancies start out with a “fixed term” lease, which covers a set period, typically six to 12 months. Once the formal lease expires, you and your landlord may decide to keep the tenancy going without signing a new lease. This means moving to a “periodic” (rolling or month-to-month) agreement. Different rules may apply about the frequency of rent hikes.

 

Rent Increase
Source: Andrii Yalanskyi (Shutterstock)

A guide to rental increase rules in each state and territory

Here’s how often your landlord can raise the rent in your part of Australia.

Australian Capital Territory

Fixed term lease: Rent can be increased either 12 months from either the beginning of your lease or 12 months after the most recent increase.

Periodic agreements: Rent can only be increased once every 12 months.

Notice required: 8 weeks.

New South Wales

Fixed term lease: If the lease is for less than two years, the rent cannot be increased during the fixed term unless the lease document spells out exactly how much the rent will increase by or the method used to calculate the increase (for example a 1% rise). On leases spanning more than two years, the rent can be increased once every 12 months.

Periodic agreements: Once the formal lease term ends, there is no set limit to how often the landlord can raise the rent.

Notice required: 60 days.

Northern Territory

Fixed term lease: The rent can be increased every six months but only if this option has been written into the tenancy agreement.

Periodic agreements: The rent can be increased every six months.

Notice required: 30 days.

Queensland

Fixed term lease: The rent can’t be increased during the fixed term unless a rent increase is noted in the lease document. Even then, the rent has to remain unchanged for at least the first six months of the tenancy.

Periodic agreements: Once you move to a periodic agreement, the rent can be increased every six months.

Notice required: Two months.

South Australia

Fixed term lease: The rent can be increased once every 12 months. Even if the lease contains a clause that lets the landlord raise the rent during the fixed term, the increase can’t kick in until 12 months have passed since the lease started or since the last rental rise.

Periodic agreements: The rent can only be increased once every 12 months.

Notice required: 60 days.

Tasmania

Fixed term lease: The rules in Tasmania are designed to let tenants know their rent obligations for the following 12 months. If the lease is for less than 12 months, rent can only be increased 12 months after the tenancy started – even if the lease is extended or renewed. If the lease is for longer than 12 months, the rent can be increased 12 months after the start date of the lease.

Periodic agreements: The rent can be increased once every 12 months.

Notice required: 60 days.

Victoria

Fixed term lease: The system in Victoria was overhauled in mid-2019 with new provisions that allow tenants to plan their rent 12 months in advance. Reflecting this, rents can only be increased once every 12 months. Even if the lease is for less than 12 months, the landlord can’t lift the rent until a full 12 months have passed since the start of the formal lease.

Periodic agreements: The rent can only be raised once every 12 months. If your initial lease was for six months, and you decide to stay on after this, the landlord has to wait another six months to impose any rent increase.

Notice required: 60 days.

Western Australia

Fixed term lease: Rent can only be increased every six months – and only if the written agreement makes it clear how much the rent increase will by (for example, in line with inflation).

Periodic agreements: Rent can be increased every six months.

Notice required: 60 days.

 

Rent Increase3
Source: fizkes (Shutterstock)

What if you don’t agree with the rent increase?

For the majority of tenants it can seem easier to just go with the flow and accept a rent hike rather than object to it. But as a tenant you do have rights.

If you believe the increase is unreasonable, first try to negotiate a better deal with the landlord or property manager. If they won’t come to the party, contact the appropriate authority in your state/territory, as shown in the table below.

You should try to act fast. Time limits apply for you to raise an objection – in NSW for example, you need to apply to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal within 30 days of learning that the rent is about to go up.

You will need to have clear grounds on which to base your argument that the rent hike is unreasonable. This can include the rent no longer being in line with market rents, or that the condition of the property doesn’t merit a raise in the rent.

Importantly, keep paying the rent until the matter is resolved. You can’t be placed on a tenant “blacklist” for questioning a rent hike, but skipping the rent altogether is a legitimate reason for your name to be added to a tenancy database, and that can make it a lot harder to secure a new home if you decide to move on.

Who to contact if you think there has been an unfair raise in rent

 


Nicola FieldAbout Nicola Field

Nicola Field is a personal finance writer with nearly two decades of industry experience. A former chartered accountant with a Master of Education degree, Nicola has contributed to several popular magazines including the Australian Women’s Weekly, Money and Real Living. She has authored several best-selling family-focused finance books including Baby or Bust (Wiley) and Investing in Your Child’s Future (Wiley).

 

 

Main image source: Pixelbliss (Shutterstock)

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