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DTMark

Rent increase advice please

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We rent a small two bed cottage from a high-end estate agent from whom I might have expected better.

Generally, the policy appears to be to do no decorative work whatsoever until, for an actual example, mould begins to come through the paintwork in the bathroom and the bath begins to rust.

Said bath was re-sprayed (believe the term for this is "re-enamelling") but now that's all peeling off so it looks worse than it did. The taps don't drip, they run, and so the enamel on the sink in the bathroom has actually worn away now and looks dreadful so needs replacing now.

Policy is to review rent every two years and so was due around this time. Tenancy agreement just says "reviewed every two years". We've been here for about 7 years, so month-to-month tenancy.

I understand this to mean that the landlord can propose an increase which has to be agreed and that we are not obliged to agree. In the past we've agreed subject to certain decorative work and so the increase has taken effect some months later. Neighbour has the same issue with them.

So: on 9 December we get a letter dated 5 December asking for an 8% increase.

On 16 December the calls begin. Actually I didn't know who it was, I was driving. Then an email chasing return of the "acceptance" part of said letter agreeing to the increase.

I reply wishing festive cheer and making it clear that 1. We won't be paying the full increase largely because it would take the rental to more than we think the place is worth and 2. There doesn't seem to be any hurry since an increase wouldn't apply until February allowing for one month's notice. We will revert after the holidays.

I get a reply the next day saying they think the rent is fair and that "this needs to be cleared up before Christmas".

The following day another reply - "we haven't heard back so we've applied the increase and the new amount is due from 1 January".

Now, actually, we're planning on moving and for just £50 more than they're asking we can have a lovely three bed detached. This is why what they're asking is simply more than it is worth.

Plus: when we move - this place needs an all new bathroom and new upstairs carpets, plus paintwork - a legacy of spending little to nothing on it, so there's a bill of a few thousand coming their way. They'll probably just re-spray the bath again but some other things are dreadful. I can't believe it will fetch what they are asking from us without that work and maybe not even then.

We plan on moving in February.

I am minded to reply after Christmas making it clear that no rent increase has been agreed and we propose a 2% increase. I would also offer to go higher if the bathroom and carpets are replaced (which I know they won't do) except that we plan to move anyway. I wasn't going to mention that bit.

How would you proceed and reply?

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Rural, near Alton in Hampshire.

This house is very small. For instance there is nowhere to put a dishwasher. The bathroom is so small you can't really get two people in it at the same time. 

It is suited to a couple with a cat but it isn't a family home.

What they're asking is towards the top end for a two bed house.

Small, and in the current condition with a knackered bathroom and some knackered mismatched kitchen units, plus knackered upstairs carpets and all the doors a buttercup faded yellow colour - nothing "damaged" just ancient - it is not "top end". They know this full-well, decoration is a "dirty word". The land and properties are owned by a Trust which is basically two women living off the proceeds occasionally selling a few of them off.

Money is only spent in dire emergencies.

From what I can see (since we've been 'window shopping' on Rightmove for a few months now) rents appear to be falling. There's plenty available. Indeed more so now than there has been before. Even taking into account the time of year.

There are some 'kite-flyers' but those get reduced within a month or so.

Indeed looking at the agent's website, I can see properties better than this not so far away for the same money, mostly refurbished and in good condition (tempted to ask for some viewings), and actually we're not tied to this area; we're looking at Micheldever near Winchester which is priced about the same, maybe more.

We actually have more to spend and will do so but not on this. I know people probably say "We'll move" when talking about rent increases, but, we are going to move as we want somewhere bigger and in better condition.

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It seems you've already made up your mind.

Make sure you take enough precautions to ensure you don't loose your deposit. Essentially get references for the new landlord before you ask your present landlord to use the existing deposit for the last months rent. 

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17 hours ago, sleepwello'nights said:

It seems you've already made up your mind.

Make sure you take enough precautions to ensure you don't loose your deposit. Essentially get references for the new landlord before you ask your present landlord to use the existing deposit for the last months rent. 

Pretty much so.

What really annoys me is receiving a letter on 9 December "suggesting" an increase in the rent with a slip to return, then phone calls and emails, and when I reply to say "We'll think about it but we're not going to pay the amount you have asked" to then get a somewhat stroppy email "this needs to be sorted out before Christmas" and "We've applied this and it's due from January 1st".

AFAIK rent increases require:

1. One month's notice, and
2. Agreement

This appears to ignore both of those.

My email did not reject the idea of an increase. It rejected the proposed amount ("this would be at the top end of such properties and this is not in that category") and said that we'd discuss it and get back to them.

I think someone needed to get this sorted for a bonus and believes that it is now sorted.

I'm minded to leave it until they notice that we've paid the "old" amount in January and then ask if they would like to begin a discussion about a potential rent increase, having closed one down before.

Mostly because I don't think we'll be here past March anyway.

We've been "window shopping" for months, but there's so much on the market at little more than we pay now that this really has incentivised us to act.

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If rents are falling in your area then you automatically have the upper hand.

I would write them a letter, not email, a proper letter, explaining that you won't be agreeing to an increase because of the reasons you outlined: property has not been updated, poor condition compared to other local properties etc, and rents are falling anyway.

If I were you I would tell them you are thinking of moving as this will probably confirm to them that it's pointless to chase you for a rent increase when you are obviously so unhappy that you're leaving anyway.

They can't keep your deposit just because you didn't agree to the rent increase and if you get a bad reference tell the landlord/agent of your new place why and I'm sure they'll agree it was unreasonable.

Good luck. 

Edited by EnglishinWales

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It sounds like the EA is panicking to get a large increase in anticipation of falling rents in the area.

I would agree that if you're going to move anyway it's best to accept the increase and move out when you're ready, assuming that they don't want you to commit for another year. 

It looks like the obnoxious agent is playing into your hands.

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On 12/23/2016 at 1:05 AM, DTMark said:

Pretty much so.

~ Snip

Mostly because I don't think we'll be here past March anyway.

~/Snip

We've been "window shopping" for months, but there's so much on the market at little more than we pay now that this really has incentivised us to act.

Hey DTMark, what is the outcome of this?

I ask as we (2A & 3 Ch) are STR and moving into rented not a million miles from Alton / PField / Bordon. 

First time I've rented in 13+ years. Needing a 4-5 (ideally bigger for 2 x WFH adults) bed house, rents seem to be £1900-£3000 per month in these environs. 

What's the feeling on trend?

 

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Although we're going to be moving away from the area so looking elsewhere I do still get the Rightmove email alerts for new properties. However those are for 2 and 3 bed places.

At the start of the year there was a huge amount of property coming available for rent, now it's slowed down a bit, but generally that price bracket is about £100 cheaper than it was a year ago.

Alton is nicer than Bordon which is a bit "scruffy" but because of this it tends to be a little cheaper.

At the other end of the scale somewhere like Elstead is lovely but is likely to be expensive with its Surrey postcode.

There are some lovely areas around here, Crondall is also worth a look.

Petersfield is a rather nice little town if you want more shopping.

If you need any guidance let me know as we've been here for years and know the areas quite well.

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Thanks DTM. We're looking at around £1800 pcm for a 4 bed around gu33 area. Been around here 9 years, are STR, but the monthly amount will sting.  

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Just done some research and the house was sold at £110k in 1995. Now "worth" around £520k. Looking to offer around £1.5k p.m at 38% combined take home pay. This should garner around 3.8% yield for LL. Sound reasonable? How do these figures compare to other parts of the UK?  

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On ‎28‎/‎02‎/‎2017 at 7:38 PM, hp72 said:

Thanks DTM. We're looking at around £1800 pcm for a 4 bed around gu33 area. Been around here 9 years, are STR, but the monthly amount will sting.  

Plenty of nice places with your reach there. Hampshire has some surprisingly * crap towns, like Aldershot and much of Southampton, but Petersfield is quite pleasant if you want to be "near things".

* I use that word because so much of it is beautiful

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Thanks DTM. I would consider something much smaller (Large American camper van even) but the missus and three sprogs need some space (and schools/social stability), plus having to get us both to work around Heathrow / Guildford means choosing horribly expensive areas if I want less than 3.25 hours a day R/T commute in the car (more time by train and much more in daily cost). To be honest, thinking of other options now as UK.PLC seems a bit mercenary and gouging. Thanks for the input. Happy to be STR as I keep getting estate agents asking if I am interested in boomer offload type properties: e.g. a semi detached 4 bedroom house in Petersfield for only £900k which is draped in pink velour. No bleeding way. I'll wait this one out for a few years thanks very much. 

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You may well have seen my thread about Scotland which is where I think we are headed. However I still have the Rightmove alert set up for rentals within 20 miles of here (GU34) and they're coming on at quite a fast rate. The price drops versus last year are quite evident. For rental, at least, things seem to be turning a corner. Supply must surely be outstripping demand by a fair amount.

In other news the endlessly dripping taps have been replaced. Finally. And our neighbour (this is a semi-detached of two) was asked to pay more, insisted on certain work being done and this was refused. So he's just given his notice to quit. So the letting agency called, knowing we want a bigger place - next door is indeed a bit bigger - to see if we'd be interested.

Let me think. A move next door to a 3 bed for circa £1250 per month, or, a 4 bed detached in stunning countryside with a view of a loch for £1000 per month. Or, a lovely, similar 2 bed - what we have now - for circa £600 per month ;)

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On 1 March 2017 at 11:08 PM, DTMark said:

You may well have seen my thread about Scotland which is where I think we are headed. However I still have the Rightmove alert set up for rentals within 20 miles of here (GU34) and they're coming on at quite a fast rate. The price drops versus last year are quite evident. For rental, at least, things seem to be turning a corner. Supply must surely be outstripping demand by a fair amount.

In other news the endlessly dripping taps have been replaced. Finally. And our neighbour (this is a semi-detached of two) was asked to pay more, insisted on certain work being done and this was refused. So he's just given his notice to quit. So the letting agency called, knowing we want a bigger place - next door is indeed a bit bigger - to see if we'd be interested.

Let me think. A move next door to a 3 bed for circa £1250 per month, or, a 4 bed detached in stunning countryside with a view of a loch for £1000 per month. Or, a lovely, similar 2 bed - what we have now - for circa £600 per month ;)

Good on you Mark. 

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