If your landlord has raised your rent and you’re not sure if it’s legal, I, Mark Roemer, have the answers. Rents are increasing across the US, as every renter knows. Many tenants can’t afford exceptional apartments that only cost 30% of their total monthly salary. That’s why it’s so annoying when your landlord raises your rent. In some circumstances, a rent increase is justified based on comparable local properties. If rates have risen elsewhere, your landlord must also raise rates. In some cases, a rent increase is not only unnecessary, but it is also unlawful. Here are a few things you might want to know about your rights as a renter if your landlord raises the rent.
Are rent increases legal?
The quick answer is yes and no. In cities without rent regulation, it is legal under specific circumstances. Rent hikes are expected when leases expire. The landlord trying to raise the rate six months into a year-long agreement is unacceptable. After the 12-month lease, rent increases are permissible. If you signed a month-to-month lease, your landlord could raise the rent at the end of each month. A monthly lease, like a 12-month lease, is a legal contract. So your landlord must still give you 30-days notice and can only raise the rate at the end of the month. All terms and conditions of your rent should be clearly stated in your rental agreement. Annual and monthly rent increases are only permitted under the criteria specified above. That’s why you should read and understand your rental agreement. Rent increases can affect security deposits. Because the rent has increased, you may need to increase the deposit.
In some cases, your landlord cannot legally raise your rent without appropriate notification. It’s usually 30-days before the planned hike. A landlord can’t raise the rent because of discrimination or retaliation. If you believe the landlord is discriminating against you because of your color, gender, sexual orientation, or any other reason, you may be able to have the increase reversed.
How To Handle Rent Increases
Receiving a rent increase is unpleasant. Rent is already out of control in many cities and areas. Having to pay more or move is going to cause strong emotions. But you have options and remedies. Uncertain about what to do when you receive a rent increase notice? Follow the steps below.
1. Verify if your landlord’s rent increase is legal
Renter’s rights vary significantly by city and state. What’s allowed in one city in your state may not be legal in others. So, if you hear of a rent rise, check your local regulations. This can be about the timing of the notice or the increased amount. Rent hikes in some states and towns are left to the landlord’s discretion. If no cap or limit is specified by law, your landlord can raise the rent as much as they choose.
2. Ensure the rent increase is in writing.
Most states require written notification of rent increases to tenants. In a letter or an email. It’s illegal if your landlord verbally informs you they’ll raise your rent. Again, it’s critical to research local and state renter legislation. If your landlord raises your rent without providing written proof, that’s evidence you can use in court.
3. Verify your lease
Check your lease to see if the notification is valid. This includes ensuring the notice arrives on time and follows any other applicable provisions. The landlord holds you to the terms of your contract, and you should hold them to the terms as well.
4. Inform the authorities of any illegal conduct
If you believe the rent increase is illegal for any reason, you should report your landlord to the local authorities. This could be a housing authority or a tenant rights organization. They can guide you. That’s why keeping track of your correspondence with your landlord is critical. It may be used as evidence in court if the landlord refuses to back down.
5. Inform your landlord
It’s possible that you still don’t want to pay the increase. Maybe you can’t afford the new amount. Perhaps you think it’s unnecessary or unjustified, given your previous renting history. Regardless, you can try to bargain with your landlord. You have two options.
The first is a rent negotiation letter. In the letter, explain why you can’t or shouldn’t pay the increase. You can talk about your finances or your renting history. Have you always paid your rent on time? A model tenant? Describe why the landlord should maintain you as a tenant. Depending on your position, being a good renter may even result in reduced rent.
You can also phone or see your landlord to discuss the rent increase. Make the same points in a negotiating letter but in a conversational way. It can assist in suggesting a longer lease and assuring the landlord of a long-term tenant. Direct, honest communication can help your case.
6. Commit to the same goal
If all else fails, there may be strength in numbers. Check with your neighbors to determine if they agree with the rent increase. If more people protest the rise and show unity, your landlord may reconsider. Collective action is effective. If the landlord raises the rent and the majority of the building rejects it, numerous tenants may leave simultaneously. So they have to work harder to fill the empty units. Their task is made more accessible by reliable tenants. This encourages them to work well with their tenants.
7. Pay the extra
If you’ve tried everything above and the increase continues, you’ll have to pay the new rent. Rent arrears give landlords the power to evict you for “just cause.” Can’t afford the new rate? You’ll need to find a new rental. Receiving a rent increase notification isn’t the end. Unless you reside in a city with rent control, dealing with rent hikes is unavoidable. They can also be incredibly unjust. Using the following tools, you can delay or stop a rent rise.
In the interest of full disclosure, I, Mark Roemer, would like to end this blog by letting you know that none of this information should be considered legal advice. I am only providing this to you to guide you through possible steps to avoid a rent increase. If you have problems, a lawyer is your best line of defense.