As the cost of living rises, renters are being stung with rent increases left, right and centre. If you’ve been served a notice that your rent is going up, there are a few things you can do. This article breaks down the basics of renter’s rights in all 7 states and territories in Australia, and what you can do if you think your rental increase is too high.
- Information contained in this article is correct per government body websites as at 11 July 2022.
- Information in this article generally relates to private tenancies through a landlord/rental provider and/or a property manage or agent acting on behalf of a private landlord. This information does not relate to public housing.
- Care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information and links contained in this article. All information has been sourced from current government and/or tenancy bodies websites. Please seek qualified state or territory-specific advice from one of the tenant support services listed below before proceeding with action.
Why has my rent gone up?
Firstly, there are a few reasons why your rent may have increased. The Reserve Bank of Australia has delivered a series of increases to the national cash rate, meaning it has risen for the first time in 11 years. This then informs the rates set by banks and lenders – the ones who may be providing your rental provider’s mortgage. When their interest rate increases, so does the cost of their mortgage. Depending on what the property is worth, this increase could be in the hundreds per month. This is where your rental increase comes in. Think of it like a café. If you own a café and the cost of coffee, milk and cups increases by 10%, you might raise your prices by 10% to cover the cost and keep your business running. Some rental providers will increase rent if the cost of providing the property has increased.
That said, that’s not always the case. Sometimes rental providers raise rent as a procedure when they’re informed by their property manager that they can. And sometimes, they’re just doing it because they’re greedy. And that’s just not cool, but unfortunately those people do exist.
Can I dispute an increase to my rent?
Yes, you can. There are a few ways of going about this.
When you’re informed that your rent is going up, you can first try having a conversation with your property manager or rental provider to explain your circumstances and try to reach a middle ground. If you’ve been a reliable renter, your rental provider may be open to negotiating your rent. There are some nice people out there!
Things that may help your case in when negotiating a rental increase include:
- Evidence that similar properties in your area are being offered at a cheaper price
- Evidence that you are a reliable and trustworthy tenant
- A willingness to find a middle ground that suits both parties
A private negotiation is your best bet if the rental increase isn’t unreasonably high or out of line with market conditions. In this instance, you’re appealing to your rental provider’s appetite for goodwill and compassion.
Seek support from tenant rights services
Before proceeding to take official action, it can be helpful to seek support from local tenant services. Some services are linked below by state and territory.
- Victoria: Tenants Victoria
- New South Wales: New South Wales Tenant Help | NSW Aboriginal Tenancy Advice and Advocacy Services | Aboriginal Legal Service ACT/NSW
- South Australia: Rent Right SA
- Australian Capital Territory: Tenants’ Union ACT | Aboriginal Legal Service ACT/NSW | Tenancy Advice Service
- Northern Territory: Darwin Community Legal Service
- Tasmania: Tenants’ Union of Tasmania
- Queensland: QStars
As a last resort: official dispute
If your rental provider has served a notice of rental increase that is unreasonable, you have the right to dispute it with the relevant consumer affairs body in your state or territory. Generally to use these services you must be able to prove that the rental increase is above fair market value, and/or that the facilities or functionality of the property does not fulfil the conditions of the rental agreement.
Unfortunately, rental increase dispute procedures will not take into account your own personal situation or the rental provider’s. The extent to which you can/can’t afford the increase, or the extent to which the provider needs the increase, won’t be considered.
IMPORTANT: in some states and territories these services are free. In others, they may involve court and tribunal fees. Please approach these situations with caution and seek advice from one of the above mentioned tenant rights services before lodging a case.
Here are the rental increase rules and dispute processes by state and territory:
How often can rent be increased in Victoria?
If you’re on a fixed term lease agreement, e.g. 12 months, rental providers can only increase the rent if the rental agreement says they can. Otherwise, they must wait until the end of the agreement.
If the agreement does say rent can be increased, there are rules about how often:
- for agreements that started before 19 June 2019, the rent can’t be increased more than once every 6 months
- for rental agreements that started on or after 19 June 2019, the rent can’t be increased more than once every 12 months
- for rental agreements for rooming houses and residential or caravan parks starting after 29 March 2021, the rent can’t be increased more than once every 12 months.
In a long-term agreement (5+ years), rent must not be increased more than once every 12 months, and only if the agreement says that the rent can be increased.
If you’re on a month-to-month rolling contract, known as a periodic lease agreement, the rent can increase once every 12 months at the most. This is true even if it has been month by month for several years.
How to dispute a rent increase in Victoria
If you cannot agree on a rent increase with your rental provider, Consumer Affairs Victoria can carry out a free rent assessment. All renters can ask for a rent assessment, including caravan park residents and rooming house residents. This is a free service.
You must apply for the rent assessment within 30 days of your provider giving you notice of the increase.
How to apply:
Fill in this form OR fill in the section of your ‘notice of rent increase’ document to apply for a rent increase investigation.
Email the form to email@example.com, or post to:
The Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria
GPO Box 123
Melbourne VIC 3001
An inspector from Consumer Affairs Victoria will then contact you to arrange a time to inspect the property. They will then write a report and send copies to you and your rental provider.
If the rent assessment says that the increase is too high, and the rental provider won’t agree to lower the rent, you can use the assessment to go to VCAT. VCAT can set a maximum rent. This maximum rent will usually be set for:
- 12 months for private rental properties
- six months for rooming houses, caravan parks and site agreements.
You must apply to VCAT for a hearing within 30 days of getting the rent assessment report.
SOURCE: Consumer Affairs Victoria. Tenants Victoria. July 2022
New South Wales
How often can rent be increased in NSW?
If you’re on a fixed term lease agreement of 2 years or more, rent can be increased once in any 12 month period. The same applies if you’re on a periodic (ongoing) lease agreement. For fixed term leases of less than two years, your rental provider can only increase the rent if your agreement sets out the amount of the increase or the method of calculating it.
You must be given 60 days written notice of a rent increase.
How to dispute a rent increase in New South Wales
First, you can make a complaint to NSW Fair Trading.
You can also apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for an investigation into whether your new rent is excessive.
If the Tribunal finds that a rent increase is excessive, it will make an excessive rent order. The order will specify:
- the amount that the rent must not exceed
- the day from which this maximum rent applies – for a period of up to 12 months
When deciding if a rent increase is excessive, the Tribunal will consider:
- rents for similar premises in the same or a similar area (‘general market level of rents’)
- the landlord’s outgoings under the tenancy agreement
- any fittings, appliances or other goods, services or facilities provided with the premises
- the state of repair of the premises
- the accommodation and amenities provided in the premises
- when the last increase was
- any work you have done to the premises
- any other matter it considers relevant
The Tribunal will not consider your income or whether you can afford the increase.
To prepare for your hearing, you can gather evidence to support your case of excessive rent. This can include:
- Comparable properties
- Repairs carried out (or pending) by the landlord
- Photos to show the condition of the premises
- Evidence of whether council and water rates have increased in recent years (this can help you override a landlords’ claim that higher expenses are the reason for the rate rise
You can also use the Rent Tracker postcode tool to explore rent trends in your area.
SOURCE: Tenants.org.au, NSW Government Fair Trading. July 2022
How often can rent be increased in the NT?
Rent can be increased during a tenancy if the right to do so is specified in the tenancy agreement. The tenancy agreement must also state the amount of the increase or the method of calculation of the increase.
The landlord must give at least 30 days’ notice in writing before increasing the rent. The date from which the increase is to take effect must be at least six months after the date the tenancy commenced or six months from the last increase.
If the rent is increased, the landlord may ask to increase the security deposit. You must receive notice in writing from the landlord, and the total security deposit held by the landlord must not be greater than four weeks rent. Notice to increase the security deposit can only be issued two years after a security deposit was paid or last increased.
In circumstances where the original agreement does not provide for an increase in rent and does not specify the amount of the increase in rent or method of calculation, rent can be increased during the term of a tenancy agreement or during any extension of the original term by mutual agreement between you and your landlord.
If you and your rental provider agree to a new contract when the original tenancy expires, the parties can negotiate the rental amount to be paid.
How to dispute a rent increase in the Northern Territory
If you believe the rent payable under your tenancy agreement is excessive, you can apply to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal* (‘NTCAT’). There may be a fee for this service.
The NTCAT can decide whether the rent payable is excessive considering:
- the general level of rents for similar premises in your area (i.e. market rent); and
- the cost of any services provided by you or the landlord under your tenancy agreement (e.g. gardening or pool maintenance).
SOURCE: Consumer Affairs NT. July 2022.
How often can rent be increased in WA?
Fixed term tenancies can only increase rent if the written agreement specifies how much the rent increase will be or the method of calculating the rent increase is shown (eg by a percentage). If the rent is able to be increased, it can take effect no sooner than six months after the commencement of the tenancy agreement and the date of the last increase.
On periodic (month to month) tenancies, rent increases can occur at six-monthly intervals (but no sooner) and you must be noticed 60 days in advance using an official form. You only have to pay the increase if you are properly notified.
If your fixed term lease agreement ends, and you continue to rent the same property on a new fixed term agreement, or if the lease rolls into a periodic agreement, a rent increase cannot take effect for the first 30 days of the new agreement. This means that you will continue to pay rent at the old rate for the first 30 days of the new agreement.
Disputing a rental increase in Western Australia
If you believe your rental increase is too high, you can apply to the Magistrates Court requesting a reduction, or to argue against a proposed increase. You must apply within 30 days of being notified of your increased rent.
The court will consider a range of things, including:
- if the rent remains comparable with other properties in the area;
- the estimated value of the premises;
- the cost of upkeep of the property paid by the lessor;
- the cost of services provided by the lessor (or tenant);
- the value of the contents provided by the lessor for the tenants use;
- the state of repair and general condition of the property; and
- any other considerations (e.g. if the lessor is putting up the rent simply to force the tenant out).
SOURCE: Government of Western Australia, Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. July 2022.
How often can rent be increased in Tasmania?
Rent can only be increased if:
- there is a written lease that allows for rent increases, or
- the lease is not in writing.
An owner can only increase the rent after giving the tenant written notice at least 60 days before the new rent amount is to start. The notice must state:
- the amount of the new rent and
- the day on which the new rent begins.
The rules around rent increases are designed so that a tenant knows their rental obligation for at least a 12 month period. Therefore, in most cases, rent cannot be increased mid-tenancy – it can only be increased:
- at the beginning of the lease, or
- at lease renewal or extension.
If the lease is longer than 12 months rent can be increased 12 months after the start of the lease.
If the lease is less than 12 months, rent can only be increased at least 12 months after the tenancy started, even after the lease is extended or renewed.
Disputing a rental increase in Tasmania
Tenants: if you think a rent increase is unreasonably high, you can apply to the Residential Tenancy Commissioner to have the rent increase reviewed.
The Commissioner can make an Order that a rent increase is reasonable, or that it is unreasonable and specify a different amount.
When applying, you will need to supply:
- a copy of the lease
- a copy of the rent increase notice
- any details of the history of the tenancy that might be relevant (such as length of tenancy, details of any other increases) and
- any details about the property that might make the rent increase unreasonable, such as outstanding maintenance, and how much other similar properties in the area are being rented for.
The Commissioner will ask the owner or agent for similar details. The Commissioner assesses the validity of the increase (whether proper notice was given), as well as the reasonableness of:
- the amount of the increase and
- the amount the rent was increased to.
If the rent increase makes the rent amount similar to rent paid on a similar property in a similar condition in a similar location, it is likely the increase will be found to be reasonable.
The Commissioner makes the findings in a formal Order and provides a copy of the Order to each party. Either party may appeal the Order to the Magistrates Court within 60 days. If the Order is appealed, the rent increase continues as if the Order was not made, until decided at appeal.
SOURCE: Tasmanian Government, Consumer, Building and Occupational Services. July 2022.
How often can rent be increased in Queensland?
Rent cannot be increased during a fixed term unless it is stated in the tenancy agreement and all of the following occurs:
- the agreement states the rent will be increased
- the agreement states the new amount (or how it will be worked out)
- the property manager/owner gives the tenant at least 2 months notice in writing, and
- it has been at least 6 months since the tenancy started or since the last increase
The property manager/owner must also give the tenant separate written notice of the increase. It does not automatically come into effect because it is in the agreement. The notice should include the increased amount and the day it takes effect.
When a fixed term tenancy ends, a rent increase can be negotiated without the need to serve a notice – but it must be at least 6 months since the last rent increase.
If you’re on a periodic (rolling) tenancy, rent can be increased if you are given at least two months written notice, and it has been at least six months since the last increase or since the tenancy commenced.
Once a fixed term tenancy ends, it becomes periodic (rolling) if a new agreement is not signed. In this instance, the rent can be increased by giving 2 months notice prior to or on the commencement of the periodic agreement. However, the rent increase can only take effect at least 2 months after the commencement of the periodic agreement.
How to dispute a rent increase in Queensland
In Queensland you have two options to escalate an excessive rent increase case. You can apply for dispute resolution, or to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
You must apply within 30 days of receiving the notice of increase, or within 30 days of signing a new agreement with a rental increase included.
QCAT may take the following into consideration when determining excessive rent increases:
- range of market rents usually charged for similar premises
- difference between the proposed and current rent
- state of repair of the property
- term of the tenancy
- period since the last rent increase (if any)
- anything else QCAT considers relevant
You can apply for the RTA’s Dispute Resolution service here. It’s free. This page also contains information on escalating your case to QCAT.
SOURCE: Queensland Government, Residential Tenancies Authority. July 2022
How often can rent be increased in South Australia?
Tenancy agreements that began on or after 1 March 2014 can deliver rent increases after 12 months from the date of the last rent increase or from when the agreement started.
Agreements that commenced prior to 1 March 2014 can increase rent every 6 months.
Fixed term agreements can only increase rent if a condition and method of calculating the increase is stipulated in the agreement. 60 days written notice must also be given.
The following terms apply to fixed and periodic (rolling) agreements. The rent can be increased:
- if at least 60 days’ written notice is given and the increase starts at least 12 months after the agreement began, or the rent was last increased.
- with an offer for a lease extension, provided it’s been 12 months since the agreement started, or the rent was last increased.
- if the specific amount of the increase and date it will commence is included as a condition in the agreement, for example, rent will increase to $400 per week from 1 July.
- if you the tenant agree to the increase. This usually happens if the property has been improved, for instance if an air conditioner is installed. Any agreement should be clear and in writing.
- within 60 days of the Housing Safety Authority removing a rent control notice by giving at least 14 days’ notice
You may be able to seek free independent advice on your rental increase from RentRightSA.
How to dispute a rental increase in South Australia
To escalate the issue further, if you believe your rental increase is excessive, you can apply to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) for the rent to be changed.
Apply to SACAT here. There may be a fee for this service.
SOURCE: SA.gov.au. July 2022.
Australian Capital Territory
How often can rent be increased in the ACT
Your landlord cannot increase rent during a fixed term tenancy agreement unless it is specified in the agreement, either the amount or the method by which it will be calculated. If a fixed term agreement expires, your rental provider can increase the rent providing they provide 8 weeks notice.
On periodic (rolling) tenancies, rent can be increased every 12 months. Again, you must receive 8 weeks notice.
Australian Capital Territory Rental Increase Limits
The ACT is the only state or territory in Australia that uses a ‘prescribed amount’ determinant of acceptable rent increases. This is set out in the Residential Tenancies Regulations 1998. It is a formula linked to the rents component of the house group of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Canberra published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Essentially, the ‘prescribed amount’ intends to keep rental increases in line with rising CPI (an indicator of inflation).
A rent increase above the ‘prescribed amount’ is invalid unless it meets the following conditions:
- Give you 8 weeks’ notice before the rent increase takes effect;
- Specify the amount to be increased;
- Specify that it is more than the ‘prescribed amount’;
- Notify you that, if you do not agree to this increase, it will not take effect unless the landlord seeks the approval of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT).
Essentially, they must tell you it’s above the prescribed amount, and notify you that you do not have to accept it unless the landlord seeks approval from ACAT.
How to dispute a rental increase in the ACT
If you believe your rent increase is excessive (regardless of whether it is above or below the prescribed amount) you can lodge an application with ACAT to challenge it. In this instance it is your responsibility to prove that the rent increase is excessive. You must lodge an application with ACAT at least two weeks before the rent increase is set to take effect.
The factors the ACAT will consider are:
- The rental rate before the proposed increase;
- If the landlord previously increased the rental rent –
- The amount of the last increase before the proposed increase; and
- The period since that increase;
- The costs of the landlord in relation to the premises;
- The services provided by the landlord to the tenant;
- The value of fixtures and goods supplied by the landlord as part of the tenancy;
- The state of repair of the premises;
- The rental rates for comparable premises;
- The value of any work performed or improvements carried out by the tenant with the landlord’s consent; and
- Any other matter the ACAT considers relevant.
You can seek support from the Tenancy Advice Service before proceeding to ACAT
Alternatively, you can lodge your ACAT application here. There may be a fee for this service.
SOURCE: Legal Aid ACT Tenancy Rent Increase Fact Sheet. July 2022.