A notice is basically a formal communication relating to the tenancy agreement. A landlord may give you notice for a whole number of things, such as a notice to conduct an inspection. This fact sheet will deal with the specific requirements of a notice to increase the rent in the ACT. This information only applies if you are in a periodic tenancy agreement and not if you are starting or renewing a fixed term lease.
There are four ways that a landlord can increase your rent:
- if there is a clause in the lease that allows for a change in the rent;
- if the amount of the increase is below a certain threshold (roughly CPI+10%);
- if the increase is above the threshold but the landlord has applied to ACAT and obtained approval for the increase;
- or if the increase is above the threshold and the tenant agrees to the proposed increase.
But firstly, the notice itself has to be valid. Not only do they have to ask you, they have to ask you in the right way. It’s kind of like a game of Simon Says: if even one part of the notice is said in an improper way, the notice as a whole is defective.
The legislation is pretty clear in setting out the notice requirements:
64B Limitation on rent increases
(2) For subsection (1) (b), the lessor must give the tenant a written notice stating—
(a) the day the proposed increase takes effect (being a day at least 8 weeks after the day the notice is given); and
(b) the amount of the proposed increase; and
(c) whether the amount of the proposed increase is more than the [allowed amount]; and
(d) if the proposed increase is more than the [allowed amount]—that if the tenant does not agree to the increase, the lessor may only make the proposed increase with the prior approval of the ACAT.
So, to review, the notice must:
- be provided at least 8 weeks before the proposed rent increase would apply;
- tell you the amount of the proposed increase;
- tell you if the amount is more or less than what is allowed by the Act;
- Explain that an increase above the allowed amount will only apply if the tenant agrees or if the lessor obtains ACAT approval.
What to do if you receive a defective notice?
If you ignore a notice on the basis that it is defective you might have a bad time. The most important thing to know is that landlords often conveniently forget to include the part that tells you whether the increase is excessive and your rights with respect to such increases. If you have concerns about a notice and want advice as to what to do you should contact Legal Aid ACT.