What to Do If Your Landlord Raises the Rent

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What to Do If Your Landlord Raises the Rent

Bonface Landi · Dec 16, 2021
A written notice of rent increase next to stacks of coins and a calculator.

The financial pressure that comes from a rent raise can be overwhelming, to say the least. If your landlord has raised the rent and you’re not sure whether or not it’s allowed, this guide will help get you some answers.

With rent prices skyrocketing all around the country, many renters can no longer afford quality apartments, many of which now cost over 50 percent of the median monthly income in their area. The market value of similar facilities in the area usually determines whether or not your rent will go up – regardless of how inconsiderate the decision may initially seem. If rent rates have increased elsewhere in your community, your landlord might have no choice but to raise your rent, too. In most cases, however, a rent increase is illegal and unnecessary.

Here’s how to determine what category your rent increase falls under:

Check to See If the Increase is Legal

Renter’s rights tend to vary by city and state. What is legal in your state or city might not be in another location. That’s why it’s so important to look up your local laws whenever you get a rent increase notice. Doing so helps answer whether the timing, or the increase itself, is within legal limits. Some cities or states don’t have maximum or fixed amounts for rent increases. This gives the landlord significant power over your cost of living. However, if there are laws in place in your area preventing such increases, you may end up having to take your landlord to court.

Double Check the Lease

When you get a rent increase, it’s important to double-check the terms of your lease. This helps confirm whether the increase is actually legal. Look for a section that outlines the time frame for notices of this nature, making sure the latest one adheres to all the vital factors listed therein. If you feel a rent increase doesn’t meet any of these clauses, you have the right to dispute it.

The Notice Should Be in Writing

Most states and cities require rent increase notices to be served in written form. This could be through email or a physical letter. If your landlord only verbally informs you of the rent increase, it’s technically illegal. Keeping track of all correspondence with your landlord is essential, as it could serve as valuable evidence if the matter does end up going to court.

Report It to the Proper Authorities

If you establish that the rent increase is unjustified and unlawful for whatever reason, you should report the landlord to the appropriate authorities. This usually entails filing a complaint with your state’s housing agency. You can also report such cases to a local tenant’s advocacy group. Institutions like these will point you in the right direction regarding your rent problems.

Speak with the Landlord

Woman talks to her landlord about a recently proposed rent increase.

Unfortunately, some rent increases are totally legal. Assuming that’s the case with your rent increase, you still might not want to pay it. If this sounds like you, it’s important to discuss the matter directly with your landlord as soon as possible. There are two ways you can do this.

First, you can choose to send them a rent negotiation letter. In it, you can outline the details of your financial situation and explain why you can’t afford to pay the proposed increase. You can also make reference to your rental history, and mention that you’ve always paid rent on time and in full in the past. Highlighting these facts will probably motivate the landlord to keep you around as a renter.

Apart from writing a rent negotiation letter, you can arrange a meeting or call your landlord to discuss the rent increase. While doing this, provide the same points as those ones you would have given in the rent negotiation letter. Remember to have a straightforward conversation that covers all your grievances.

In some cases, you might even consider signing onto a longer lease, so long as it means preventing a rent increase. This guarantees your landlord a tenant for the foreseeable future, and that might be all the leverage you need to keep your rent in place.

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