May the landlord increase rent if no rent increase is included in the lease?

by | Jun 30, 2022 | Relocation consultant, Rent out

It is common to have a lease that does not include anything about an (annual) rent increase. We also often see this happen with houses that are taken over in a rented state. The big question is: can you then still raise the rent and if so by how much?

The answer is a bit more complex. Indeed, it appears that there is still no uniformity among judges on this issue. One judge simply follows the law (as in a verdict in Amsterdam). The other judge thinks that you have to do something anyway as a landlord (as in a verdict in Midden-Nederland).

Please read carefully the following 2 statements from situations where this question was current.

Verdict of the Amsterdam court (to the landlord’s disadvantage)
Amsterdam District Court, June 15, 2021

Situation: there is a claim by the landlord to terminate the lease because the tenant refuses to pay a reasonable proposal to increase the rent.
Judge’s opinion: a reasonable proposal for a rent increase is rejected because as of May 1, 2021, rents in the free sector may no longer be freely increased.

Verdict by Judge Midden-Nederland (in favor of the landlord)
Rechtbank Midden Nederland, January 26, 2022

Situation: there is a claim by the landlord to terminate the lease because the tenant refuses to pay a reasonable proposal to increase the rent.
Judge’s opinion: the judge finds that the law does not prevent some degree of rent increase. The law only oversees the capping of rent increases. The judge thought the proposal of the rent increase to tenants reasonable enough and found that they could have accepted the proposal perfectly well. The judge’s additional argument is that a reasonable rent increase is acceptable because the WOZ value has also increased.

Our advice: if you want to increase the rent and there is nothing about rent increase recorded

As you can read above, it varies from judge to judge whether you as a landlord can increase the rent if there is nothing about rent increase in the lease agreement. Are you facing a situation in which nothing has been established about rent increases and you want to increase the rent? Then here’s our advice.

Our advice is first and foremost to always increase the rent by a “reasonably acceptable amount. If you want to know what a reasonably acceptable rent increase is in the free sector, our urgent advice is NEVER to exceed the maximum allowable rent increase. In fact, make sure you stay a little below that. Does the tenant object to the rent increase and invoke the fact that nothing about the rent increase is included in the lease? Then, in your response to his objection, you could refer to the January 26, 2022 ruling of the Midden-Nederland court in which the court ruled in favor of the landlord in a similar case. So this case law can help you with this. One final piece of advice is to make sure the property is just in good enough condition. If the tenant has been indicating for a long time that there are defects that are interfering with his rental enjoyment and these defects are the landlord’s responsibility, then as a landlord you simply have to fix these defects. With good landlordship, you simply avoid a lot of problems.

Good landlordship is a requirement

Note: If we are asked to rent out a property full of defects, we always advise the landlord to fix the major defects first before renting out the property. We always actively help with professional advice and if necessary also with the right professionals who can solve the defects. If a landlord refuses to resolve serious defects (which really hamper the enjoyment of living), we will not accept the rental order.