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How Landlords can increase rent with a Section 13 Notice (Form 4)

Form 4 formal notice for landlord to increase rent under section 13 Housing Act 1988

When a landlord wishes to increase the rent, they’ll usually try to reach agreement with their renters, or rely on a clause in the tenancy agreement. However, if the landlord can’t agree on a rent increase, they can go ahead an increase the rent using a Section 13 notice on Form 4. However, it’s important they follow the correct process.

Click here to find out how to increase the rent by agreement or using a rent review clause in a tenancy agreement.

How often can landlords increase rent with Section 13 notice?

So long as there isn’t a rent review clause in the tenancy agreement, and it’s not during a fixed-term period, a landlord can increase rent using Form 4 under Section 13 no more than once every 52 weeks. If the landlord previously increased the rent by agreement, and not using a Section 13 notice, they don’t need to wait 52 weeks before using a Section 13 notice.

What is the process for issuing a notice of rent increase using Form 4?

So long as it’s not during a fixed term tenancy, a landlord can serve a Section 13 notice on the tenants to increase the rent, once every 12 months. The landlord needs to serve the notice using Form 4 – click here to download the free GOV.uk template.

It’s important always to go to the gov.uk website to download Form 4 each time as the wording changes over time, and you want to make sure you’re using the latest one, in case your tenant challenges the rent increase at the First-tier Tribunal. Don’t just write over one you’ve done before.

How to use Form 4 to increase the rent under Section 13

If landlords of properties in England wish to increase rent using Section 13, they need to serve notice of the new rent on the tenants using Form 4. Landlords should download the free, official template in a Word document that is available on the GOV.UK website, using this link. It will always have the up-to-date guidance notes and wording.

Form 4 contains guidance notes for both tenants and help for landlords on what to write in each field. Once you have filled out Form 4, you will need to serve it on the tenant (click here to jump to how to serve the notice). 

>> Useful Resource: Download Free Official gov.uk Template Form 4 for Section 13 Notice

What does paragraph 3 in Form 4 rent increase notice mean?

There’s a particularly opaque instruction in paragraph 3 of Form 4 that asks the landlord to enter “The first rent increase date after 11th February 2003”. It’s a bizarre question, and doesn’t make sense, as if anything it would make more sense to ask when the last time Form 4 was used!

In any event, the answer is that it’s the date of the first time you increased the rent using Form 4 (Section 13 notice) for this tenancy. If you’ve not used it before, then put the same date as the date of the rent increase in the current notice. If you’re serving notice on 20 March 2024 to come into effect on 25 April 2024 (this gap allows time for service), you should enter 25 April 2024 in paragraph 3.

If you have used Form 4 before, enter the date of the first day the rent was increased using Form 4. For instance, if you served the notice on 20 March 2022 to come into effect on 25 April 2023, you would put 25 April 2023 into paragraph 3.

What is the beginning of a tenancy period for the notice start date?

Paragraph 4 asks for starting date for the new rent. Section 13 Housing Act 1988 states that the new rent must start on ”the beginning of the new period of the tenancy”.

To find the beginning of each tenancy period, find the start date in the original tenancy agreement. When the the fixed term of that tenancy agreement ends and becomes a statutory periodic tenancy, it is that date that will be the new tenancy period date. Unless of course the agreement is amended, or a contractual periodic tenancy is signed. For some older tenancies, the rent book will record the relevant date.

In most cases, rent is payable on a calendar month basis. Therefore, the landlord needs to give a calendar month’s notice, and start the new rent at the beginning of a tenancy period.

For example, if the monthly periodic tenancy starts on 2nd of each month to the 1st of the next, the date on the notice must be the 2nd. It’s the periodic tenancy date when the rent is due which is key, not the date on which the tenant pays the rent. If the landlord doesn’t use the correct date, the notice will be invalid.

Some older tenancies are on a weekly period. In that case, the notice must start on the relevant day of the week.

As the case of Mooney v Whiteland (2023) shows, it’s important to use the date that the rent is due, rather than when the renters pay. Here, the Section 13 notice was invalid as the notice referred to the day the rent actually paid the rent (the Friday), instead of when the rent was due (the Monday).

How much notice does a landlord need to give to increase the rent?

For a standard periodic tenancy with rent paid monthly, a landlord must give at least one month’s notice of a rent to end at the beginning of the new tenancy period to increase the rent using Section 13. If it’s a yearly tenancy, the landlord needs to give six months’ notice.

How to serve Form 4 notice of rent increase on tenants (Section 13)

Landlords / letting agents can serve Form 4 via first class post, hand delivery, or via an official process server. Here are some tips for serving the notice on tenants:

  • Serve notice by First Class Post
    • If using first class post, the law deems the notice as served the second day after they posted it, provided it was posted on a business day. If the second day isn’t a business day, it will be the next business day. For instance, if the landlord posts the notice on a Thursday, two days later would be a Saturday. However, as Saturday isn’t a working day, service will be deemed to take place on the Monday.
    • In order to avoid any disagreement over when the notice was posted, do remember to ask for proof of posting from the Post Office. You can also take a photo of you (or someone else) handing over the envelope at the Post Office or into a Post Box, showing little sign with the day the next collection is due.
  • Serve notice in person / by hand
    • For serving the notice in person, it’s best to go with a witness, and take a photo of the envelope being posted through the letter box of the property.
    • If the tenant isn’t at the property or refuses to acknowledge receipt, complete a certificate of service (N215) form saying how you served the notice in person.
    • If the notice is delivered the address on a business day before 4.30pm, it will be considered as served that day. If it’s delivered after 4.30pm, it will be deemed to be delivered on the following business day. This means if you serve Form 6A in person on Friday at 5:30pm, it won’t be considered as served until the following Monday, assuming that’s not a bank holiday!
  • Serve notice by email
    • Sometimes tenancy agreements allow the service of notices by email, so do check the tenancy agreement to see if this is a valid method of servicing notices on tenants.
    • Given the importance of being able to prove delivery, I would use email in addition to another “hard copy” method.

Can tenants challenge a Section 13 notice of rent increase?

If a renter doesn’t agree to the new rent in the notice, they can challenge the notice in the First-tier Tribunal. However, they need to do this before the date the rent increase is due to start.

To appeal a notice, they need to submit Form Rent 1, which asks form detailed information on the property (rooms, facilities, type of property, furniture, repairs). Click here to download Form Rent 1 from the GOV.uk website.

The tribunal will set a rent for the property. To do this, they will assess what rent the property would reasonably achieve if let on the open market under a new tenancy on the same terms. This means that the tribunal may set a rent that is higher, lower or the same as the proposed new rent.

Therefore, it’s risky for a renter to go to a First-tier Tribunal if the new rent is below the market. For instance, if the rent is £500 pcm, and the market rent £750, an increase of 20% to £600 is below the market. It’s an above inflation rent increase, but is below the market rent, and the tribunal might increase the rent to £750.

The tribunal can also take into account any repairs that the landlord should have taken care of. Additionally, they can take account of the value of any improvements the tenant has made themselves.

The tenant needs to keep paying the old rent until the tribunal makes a decision.

So long as the proposed rent increase is no more than the average for a similar property in the area, the tribunal is unlikely to decrease the rent.

How landlords can increase rent using a section 13 notice using Form 4
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