There is actually no limit on how much your rent can increase.
On top of the already painful increases in the cost of living hitting Australians right now, renters across the country are also being bombarded with extreme rent increases.
No matter where you currently live in the country, huge rent increases serve as the final nail in the coffin for renters who are already struggling with the cost of living.
But what can you actually do about it, and is it legal?
How much notice should your landlord give you?
Generally, your landlord cannot increase your rent in the middle of a fixed-term lease. This means that your rent should only really increase if you renew – or if your tenancy agreement says otherwise (always read the fine print).
However, if you have a month-to-month (periodic) tenancy, which is particularly common in Victoria at the end of your first fixed-term contract, your landlord can increase whenever they wish, provided they give you sufficient notice. .
The specific notice period varies by state, but is generally around sixty days.
“Details will depend on the state or territory you live in,” said Joel Dignam, executive director of Better Renting. ABC. “In many cases, you should be given about two months’ notice. If you get a rent increase that goes into effect next week, it probably won’t be legit. »
If you think you didn’t get enough notice before a rent increase, you can contact your state or territory’s housing authority to dispute the increase.
How often can they raise your rent?
Your landlord is also limited in how often they can raise your rent. Usually this can only be done once per lease – which is usually renewed every six or twelve months, depending on your agreement.
Again, the situation is slightly different on a periodic lease, but if you reduce rent increases every three months, something is probably wrong.
Recent laws which changed in Victoria means you can only have your rent increased once every twelve months, and your landlord must explain how the increase was calculated if it occurs during a fixed-term tenancy.
How much can they raise your rent?
There is no set amount your landlord can raise your rent to, because it all depends on the market. However, you can fight any increase you think is unreasonable. The problem here is proving what is in fact unreasonable, largely because there is no national definition of a reasonable rent increase.
Basically, reasonable rent is comparable to other similar properties in your area. If you are currently paying significantly less than your neighbors, be prepared for your landlord to increase that amount.
The other major factor influencing rental prices is supply and demand, so if your neighborhood is booming, expect an increase. Alternatively, if there are stacks of empty properties in your area, you may have some bargaining power.
Generally, 2-10% is considered reasonable, depending on market conditions. But despite what many of us may think, there is no limit to how much your rent will increase.
“People think there could be a fixed percentage limit or a dollar limit, but those things don’t exist. That’s basically all that’s going on,” Dignam said. Currency Mag. “Most jurisdictions have a process where you can appeal against an excessive increase, but this definition does not take into account your income or, really, the quality of the property. It all depends on what is happening in the rental market in general.
“So if prices go up everywhere, it’s very hard to argue against a rent increase, which means you have to take it on the chin.”
What are your options?
If your rent goes up, whether it’s reasonable or unreasonable, you don’t have to accept it. You have options.
Your first port of call should obviously be to call your real estate agent to try and negotiate with them directly. Depending on market conditions, your rental history, and other factors (see: your landlord’s friendliness), they may accept a smaller increase — or no increase at all, if you’re really lucky.
If you’re unlucky, you can contact your state housing court and file a formal complaint about an unreasonable rent increase. You usually have 30 days to do this after you receive the rent increase notice, but then the onus is on you to prove that the increase is unreasonable. This may be easy if your landlord increases your rent by $300/week, but it may be more difficult if you face a smaller (but still strong) increase in otherwise choppy market conditions.
The court will largely focus on the state of the market, so there’s usually not much sympathy if you live in a city where the market is in absolute ruin (see: every capital city in Australia right now) .
Who to contact
Contact information for each state’s housing court can be found below: