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How do I negotiate a rent increase with my landlord?

Posted by admin-istrate on 17th July 2015
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QUESTION:
I have been living in a rented property for the last 12 months. My landlord recently informed me that he is considering increasing the rent by €100. I believe that this level of an increase is excessive; however, my landlord seems to be willing to negotiate. Obviously I am anxious to keep the new rent as close as possible to the old rent. Is there any advice you can offer me in advance of these negotiations?

ANSWER:
Most of the rules defining rents and increases are set out in the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. S24 defines the market rent as “. . . the rent which a willing tenant not already in occupation would give and a willing landlord would take for the dwelling, in each case on the basis of vacant possession being given, and having regard to (a) the other terms of the tenancy, and (b) the letting values of dwellings of a similar size, type and character to the dwelling and situated in a comparable area to that in which it is situated . . .”
S20 dictates that a landlord cannot increase the rent on a premises more often than once in any 12-month period, and S19 states that the rent cannot be increased to more than the prevailing rents at that time. Certain exceptions apply if any works have been carried out to the premises within the 12-month period. You must be given 28 days’ notice in writing of the increase, so as I read your question, the landlord is following the correct procedure.

You should firstly consider the rent sections of Daft.ie and Myhome.ie to see what similar types of accommodation are renting for in your area. As rent levels can change quickly, you need to be sure you are capturing the latest information. A call to a local estate agent should also inform you of current rent levels, and if there are a number of other properties available to let which will give you other options if you are unable to agree. An increase of €100 per month in a 12-month period seems reasonable, and you should consider that he may not be seeking a full increase.

Most landlords want a good quality, long term tenant who will adhere to the terms of the lease. I don’t mean that a landlord should not adhere to his obligations under a lease, but only recently a landlord informed me that he had decided not to increase the rent as he was perfectly satisfied that the property was being well looked after, the rent was being paid promptly and he did not wish to upset the arrangement with the tenant. This is certainly an exception, but demonstrates clearly that where there is a good working relationship between a landlord and tenant, it is not always about the money. The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) produce useful guides for landlords & tenants, which you should be aware of. You should also establish if your landlord is willing to consider a longer-term lease; however, in periods of escalating rent levels, he may not be willing to do so.

My own approach would be to set out clearly that you are satisfied to remain on in the premises if you can agree the increase; that, presumably, you have a good working relationship and that the property is being well looked after; and that you are suggesting an increase of less than the proposed rent (if the €100 is to the full market rate). Your landlord will be aware that if you do vacate the property he will have the costs of re-letting the property, new PRTB charges, perhaps a void period in the rent whilst the new tenants are moving in and maybe some redecoration works, and on balance may well see the advantages of reaching an agreement with you.

If you are unable to reach agreement, either side can refer the dispute to the PRTB and you should contact them directly to ensure the correct procedures for dispute resolution are being followed.

Edward Carey is a residential surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) residential agency surveyors professional group

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