In South Africa, there are no regulations prescribing how much your landlord can increase your rent by, unless there is an escalation clause in your lease. For many years, people just tended to accept that rent would go up by 10%-12% every year and either tried to budget for that or looked around for somewhere else to live. However, times are changing and people are feeling the pinch of the recession that hit a couple of years ago. Another consideration is that while you may not be able to afford the rent increase, moving can also be an expensive endeavour, even if you do manage to find somewhere cheaper to live.
More and more, tenants are trying to negotiate any rent increases with their landlord. When looking at hikes in prices for petrol, electricity and food, a blanket 10% increase in rent seems very high. One of the standard negotiation tactics is to ask your landlord for an inflation-related increase. This is quite fair in many respects, but doesn’t always look after all of the landlord’s interests.
If you wish to negotiate your rent increase with your landlord, it’s important to look at it from their side of things too. Most landlords are only trying to cover their costs.
Aspects to bear in mind when negotiating a rent increase
- First check your lease carefully – Most leases include an escalation clause. This will tell you what the expected annual increase will be, as well as terms for contract renewal. Remember, even if there is an escalation clause, it doesn’t mean that you can’t renegotiate the rent increase with your landlord.
- Look at rates, taxes and other costs to your landlord – If you want your landlord to be open to your negotiations, it’s a good idea to know what is happening with all of the extra expenses that they have to pay.
- Judge the popularity of the neighbourhood – If the area that you’re living in is very popular, then you may have to be careful with your negotiations. It’s best to avoid a situation where the landlord can easily replace you with someone who is willing to pay the higher rent.
- Remind your landlord how long you’ve been living there – In many cases, longstanding tenants who have proven to be reliable, have a good bargaining chip when it comes to negotiations.
If you’re having trouble negotiating a fair rental increase with your landlord, it might be time to get a professional in to help with mediation. Contact Simon today for legal representation in your property dispute.
Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc. is a law firm in Cape Town and Gauteng with eviction lawyers and attorneys specialising in eviction law.