Rental increases are part and parcel of most tenancies, but it pays to know what your landlord can and can’t do while you’re renting.

Competition is rife in Australia’s rental market, and it’s getting tighter in many areas. If you’re coming up to the end of a lease or have had communication from your agent, it’s important to know your tenant rights.

Your rent is typically the biggest fixed expense in your budget, so watching that cost go up is less than ideal. But how much can your landlord raise your rent by, exactly? Here’s what you need to know.

Different states, different rules

How often a landlord can enforce a rent increase depends on whether you’re on a tenancy agreement or not, and the rules can also change depending on where you live in Australia. But generally speaking, they can’t do it during your tenancy unless it’s by agreement or if your lease allows it.

In short, it needs to be written into your tenancy agreement.

NEW SOUTH WALES

Fixed-term tenancies: Agreements less than two years must have increases stated upfront.

Periodic tenancies: Your rent can only be increased every 12 months. Your landlord must provide 60 days’ notice.

Other: If your agreement lasts more than two years, the landlord must provide 60 days’ notice of the increase, which can only occur once every 12 months. Check NSW Fair Trading for more info.

VICTORIA

Fixed-term tenancies: Agreements less than five years must have increases stated upfront and can only occur every six months. Agreements lasting more than five years, the rent can only increase every 12 months. 60 days’ notice must be provided. If your agreement predates 19 July 2019, your rent can be increased every six months, provided this is stated upfront. If it was made after 19 July 2019, the rent can be increased every 12 months, provided this is stated upfront.

Periodic tenancies: Your rent can only be increased every 12 months. Your landlord must provide 60 days’ notice.

Other: Check the Victorian Consumer Affairs website for more info.

QUEENSLAND

Fixed-term tenancies: Your rent can’t be increased within a fixed-term agreement unless stated upfront.

Periodic tenancies: Your rent can be increased every six months if your landlord gives you 60 days’ notice.

Other: Check the Queensland Government website for more info.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Fixed-term tenancies: Your rent can’t be increased during a fixed-term agreement unless this is stated upfront.

Periodic tenancies: Your rent can be increased every six months if your landlord gives you 60 days’ notice.

Other: Check the WA Department of Housing website for more info.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Fixed-term tenancies: Your rent can’t be increased during a fixed-term agreement unless this is stated upfront.

Periodic tenancies: Your rent can be increased every six months if your landlord gives you 60 days’ notice.

Other: Check the SA Government website for more info.

TASMANIA

Your rent can only go up if your lease states it will be upfront, and your landlord provides you with 60 days’ warning. In most cases, rents can’t be raised during a tenancy agreement.

Other: Check the Tasmanian Government website for more info.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Your rent can be increased if you and your landlord agree, and it’s been stated in your lease that rent increases can occur.

The rent can be increased every six months, provided your landlord gives you 30 days’ notice.

Other: Check the NT Consumer Affairs website for more info.

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

In the ACT, rents can only go up, when allowable, by a prescribed amount, which is 10% of Canberra’s Consumer Price Index.

Fixed-term tenancies: Your rent can’t be increased within a fixed-term agreement unless stated upfront.

Periodic tenancies: Your rent can be increased every 12m months so long as your landlord gives you 60 days’ notice.

Other: Check the ACAT website for more info.

What is classed as a ‘reasonable’ increase?

There’s no nationwide definition of a ‘reasonable’ rent increase. This figure is typically influenced by factors like local supply and demand.

When reviewing the rent on a property, agents and landlords may look at comparable properties within a 5km radius. They’re not just looking at bedrooms and bathrooms, but also the overall size and property attributes, plus features that appeal to tenants like an aircon, a dishwasher and modern security.

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> Getting ahead: Why can’t I save money?
> Demand is driving rents up. Here’s what to do when faced with a rent increase
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So what can you do if you feel the increase isn’t justified?

To start with, it’s worth gathering some information yourself. Get in touch with your landlord or agent and show examples of other recently advertised properties and how you think they compare to your rental.

This is typically better than asking the landlord for an outright deduction or simply maintaining the current rent.

Next, identify what else you can offer that might help your landlord agree. Consider offering to sign a fixed-term lease to give your landlord some security.

Rent negotiations happen all the time – agents expect tenants to negotiate but go into the discussion armed with facts and knowledge.

What happens if negotiations break down?

If you think your rent increase is illegitimate or unreasonable, you can ask for a review or raise a dispute.

Like most things in the rental space, the process differs depending on which state or territory you call home. Here’s where to go for information and resources:

If you need help or support, contact your local tenancy advice service for support.

For financial help or information:

Rent.com.au

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