Property Management, Tenant Selection, Real Estate News & Tips

What to Do When Your Landlord Raises the Rent

By on August 12, 2016 in Education with 29 Comments

raises the rentGetting a notice from your landlord that your rent is increasing would ruin anyone’s day. Unfortunately, this stress inducing reality has been happening across the country as reports of rental rates hitting an all time high have been making headlines regularly.

After the initial shocks wears off (and the superlatives subside) it’s time to start thinking about your options for dealing with a rent increase. Keep reading to find out what you can do when your landlord raises the rent.

First things first, it’s important to understand why your rent is going up.  

Landlords may decide to increase their rental prices in order to match market rates, to pay for property maintenance or improvements, to accommodate tax increases, or simply to increase their profits. Like most industries, the rental market responds to economic trends creating conditions for owners to ask more or less for rent depending on their region.

But why is the rent going up so much?

It turns out, that most landlords do not regularly raise their rent to match the cost of owning and maintaining a property. What ends up happening is after 5 years at a steady rental rate, the owner will realize that a rent increase is necessary to keep up with increasing property taxes, maintenance, and market rates. Suddenly, after 5 years of affordable rent, you might see a sudden 10-25% increase.

For a lot of renters, a 25% increase could price them out of their current rental property.I try to recommend that landlords include a regular 3% increase every year so they do not find themselves in a situation where they are suddenly asking their tenants to pay an extra few hundred dollars a month. A $30 increase each year is a lot easier to stomach than a $150 increase after nothing for 5 years!

So you got a 25% rent increase (or more!) – Is that even legal?

Most likely, yes it is legal.* Landlords can charge whatever rent the market allows.  State laws dictate how much notice a landlord must give before raising the rent on a month-to-month agreement. If you are on a lease, good news, your landlord cannot raise the rent on you. But as soon as the lease is over, he can raise the rent, even if your lease transitions into a month-to-month agreement.

Some states, like Oregon, prevent rent increases in the first year of month-to-month tenancy and set longer periods of required notice before a rent increase takes place. A quick Google search of “[Your state] rent increase notice” should reveal how much time your landlord must give before raising the rent.

The only other reason a rent increase would be considered illegal, is if you feel like your landlord is raising the rent in retaliation to your tenancy. If you think this is you, you need to contact a landlord-tenant attorney to start building a case.

*Rent increases like those described above are legal in areas that do not have rent control or rent-stabilization acts in place. According Rachel Stults at Realtor.com , rent-controlled and rent-stabilized areas are pretty rare, are governed on the local level, and have rules around how often and how much rent can be increased.

If you are facing a rent increase here is what you should do:

Ask for Time to Think About it 

You don’t need to decide today if you are staying or going. But you do need to make a plan to think about your finances. Housing expenses should account for 30% of your income (including utilities). If the new rent is going to price you out of your household budget, finding a less expensive rental is what needs to happen. Do not put additional strain on your finances by living in a place you cannot afford.

If you can afford the new rent but do not want to pay it, do some research to see what else is on the market. You might discover that rents have gone up universally in your area and your landlord is asking a reasonable price. Would it be worth the moving expenses to find a comparable property with comparable rent?

Try to Reasonably Negotiate

Before you start paying the higher rate or perusing the rental ads, have a professional and honest conversation with your landlord. Tell your landlord you are concerned with the raising rent prices and that you will probably have to move. You might find that he likes you as a tenant and will negotiate the rent increase down in order to keep you. This tactic will only work if you get along with your landlord and have a history of on-time rent payments.

You have to be prepared for him to say no. But it won’t hurt anything to ask. Be professional, empathic, reasonable, and never get angry or defensive. I have heard success of renters talking a 10% rent increase down to 5%, with the knowledge that the rent will increase by another 5% in a year, but at least it wasn’t such a steep jump. If you are mean or hostile during this conversation, your landlord will be probably be happy that you are moving out.

Ask to Sign a Longer Fixed-Term Lease

Landlords cannot raise the rent on you during a fixed-term lease agreement. If you are tired of your landlord raising the rent every year, ask your landlord if you can sign a lease for 1 or 2 years. This means you will have to commit living on that property but if you have no intention of moving you will benefit from the knowledge that your housing budget will remain stable.

In most cases, your landlord will agree to a long lease agreement, because that means they will not have to deal with re-leasing the property, turnover, or vacancy. If you already have a history of on-time rent payments and good landlord-tenant relationship your landlord should be open to a long-term lease agreement.

Move Out

In some cases, the only thing to do will be to move. The harsh reality of rising rents is that some people will be forced to move out of great apartments in prime locations. Moving away from your city center or job can reduce your housing expenses; however, it may also make your commuting expenses go up.

If you live in a tight rental market, with limited vacancies, be sure to communicate your moving plans to your landlord. He might be reasonable about giving you an extension to live on the property at your current rate until you find a new property. Don’t overstay your welcome or take advantage of your landlord’s generosity. Remember that your current landlord will need to give you reference in order for you to find a new place.

Prevent Rent Increases – Be a Great Tenant

I have had many discussions with landlords that they do not want to raise rent on good tenants for fear of losing them. In general, landlords hate finding new tenants. Turnover is expensive and time consuming. If you are a good tenant, ie pay your rent on time or early every month, there is a chance that your landlord will avoid raising the rent on you. This is not always the case, as some rent increases are inevitable but every renter should strive to be a good tenant.

Unfair Rent Increases

If you think that your rent increase is unfair or is done in retaliation to get you to move, you can contact a landlord-tenant attorney in your state to talk about your options. An attorney familiar with the laws that pertain to tenant rights in your state will be necessary to move forward with defending yourself legally.

Have you recently gotten notice that your rent is increasing? Let us know what you did in the comments!

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About the Author

About the Author: Kaycee manages marketing and media relations for Rentec Direct, bringing a unique perspective to the world of property management and proudly shares industry news, products, and trends within the community. .

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There Are 29 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Nikolay says:

    Great article Kaycee! Really useful tips. Will try to remember them and use if necessary.

    • Thanks Nikolay! Glad you found it helpful!

      • Velvet says:

        I’ve lived in my property for 16 yrs. New owners have increased the rent by 85%. There are extensive repairs needed and there ignored my concerns. They demand the new amount or will evict. It’s a 3/2 with only 1 working bathroom. No ch&a, windows don’t open properly and lack screens. No appliances. Rotten flooring, holes in ceiling. Any agreement I had w the prior owner is revoked. This doesn’t seem legal. I’ve always been a good tenant. Who do I talk to about not paying this increase.

        • Yikes, it sounds like this property needs a lot of work. I am sorry to hear about your situation, that stinks. I am not sure how it would be the new owners fault that the old owners ignored your repair requests. If you feel like you are being treated unfairly, I would speak to the local housing authority or a lawyer and bring documentation of all the times you asked for a repair and it was ignored. If you didn’t keep records of these requests, then I am not sure what will happen.

          Keep in mind, that the new owners might agree to repair all the issues you listed but will still raise the rent 85% to cover the cost of everything and bring the property up to market rent. If you are not able to pay that much in rent, it might be time to start looking for a new place and saving for moving costs.

  2. Stephen Cramer says:

    Hi Kaycee and Hello all,

    The property was sold and the new owner/landlord took possession yesterday Sept 25. Today Sept 26, 2016 the new owner came around with clipboard in hand and handing out rent increase notices. My rent will be going up 37.3% in 90 days. Since we’re new tenants for this new owner does HB4142 protect us for the stated one (1) year wait for rent increase? Thanks for any and all help. (This increase will force a move).

    • Hi Stephen,

      If it is a month-to-month rental agreement, the new owner should be issuing a new rental agreement along with the rent increase. In this case, he would be perfectly in his rights to raise the rent. And the “one year” would start now.

      If the new owner is merely keeping you under the current rental agreement (that I assume is also month-to-month) he could still raise the rent if you have lived there over a year. If you have not lived at this property over a year, you might be able to argue that he is not allowed to raise the rent till you hit the one year mark.

      The only other way a new owner could not raise the rent is if you are under a fixed-term lease contract (ie one year lease) that has not expired.

      If you do choose to fight the rent increase, I strongly advise you speak with an attorney because I can not provide legal advice.

  3. Marcielle says:

    Hi, Kaycee.
    My owner has an address, but I cannot find any phone number for him.
    Is this legal?
    Thanks,
    Marcielle

  4. Yolanda quintero says:

    I live in Dallas Texas and have been renting one year. Our lease expired and when it was time to renew, the landlord raised rent 100$ and claimed it was due to her taxes going up but that’s not true. What can I do ? I haven’t yet signed the new lease

    • Hi Yolanda, It looks like Texas has no state statute that prohibits a landlord from raising the rent, as long as he gives you proper notice (typically one month) and he can do so for any reason, regardless if his taxes are going up or not. If you cannot afford the new rental rate, it sounds like it is time to start looking for a new rental property that will fit your budget. Good luck!

    • voosa8888 says:

      Let’s face it, so many landlords don’t care at all about their tenants. It’s one of the reasons I refuse to care about things I see happening that are none of my business. I used to care, but no more. Landlords tend not to realize that good tenants are very beneficial.

  5. Kelli Foster says:

    I have lived in the same house for 4 1/2 yrs. Actually my sister and myself. My sister lives on disability due to Severe Stomach Problems after 9 Surgeries. When we rented the house. Which is 30 yrs old by the way..We are paying 1150.00 per month. The landlord knew she was on disability at the time we signed the lease. She gets 843.00 per month. The landlord promised she would never go up as long as we were here. We have been excellent tenants. Have paid the rent late 1 time..After the death of our Dad..We totally lost track of the date and we’re 2 days late. Our Landlady is, for lack of a better word..A Slumlord. We have spent a couple thousand dollars of our own money to do repairs that she refused to pay..Ie..When the garbage disposal went out..Her words were..Throw the food in the back yard and start a compost pile!! That’s not even a tip of the iceberg. We received a certified letter in the mail 3 days ago stating she is going up $100.00 a month. We don’t want to move and can’t afford the rent that is being asked these days. Do we have a case stating we are going to fight the rent Increase?

  6. Barbara Lucas says:

    I live in a senior apartment complex that receives tax credits for providing “affordable housing” for seniors. After 2yrs & 9 months my rent was increased by $140.00. This seems excessive to me. Other tenants have received increases at this time of less than $20.00.

  7. westley anderson says:

    within a year and a half my landlord has raised my rent three times I have been a good tenant and paid my rent on time is this a way of getting a tentant to leave or move how far can a landlord go?

    • I would ask to sign a year long lease if you plan on staying put for a while. 3 rent raises in 18 months is a lot, but usually within a landlord’s right if you are a month-to-month tenant. If you are on a term lease, he cannot raise the rent mid-term. Good luck!

  8. Tony says:

    I just found out my rent would increase by $40.00 through my new lease. I was not made aware of this increase , was told letter was sent out but I didn’t receive one. I want to move out because of rent increase and them failing to tell but now they’re saying I’ll be responsible for the 60 days notice I didn’t give. It just doesn’t seem fair that I would be on the hook because of their error, and by the way the are willing to just increase it by $20. If they can do this why not just let me move as well because I have found something else.

    • Do they have any proof that the letter was mailed by the required notice date? Usually landlords will send mail by certified mail or with a delivery receipt to prove that they are in compliance with the law. If they have a receipt showing they mailed the notice but you didn’t receive it, it is usually not their fault. I would just talk to them and see if their is anything else they can do, since it wasn’t anyone’s fault.

  9. My landlord died and had no will and management company is running it. Been here 10 years. My landlord never really did any reapers. We asked the management to fix our oven and less than a week later we get a notice of rent increases. From $1300 to $1500

  10. Terri Sims says:

    What is considered notification. I went to pay my rent on the first and he handed me my new lease with the increase and wanted me to sign it a month early

    • It depends on what state you live in. But technically, if your term-lease is over in a month, then your landlord can request that you sign a new lease that will go into effect the day the old one expires. If you are a month-to-month tenant, he has to follow your state’s laws about providing proper notice before increasing the rent amount (for example, Oregon requires 90-days notice before increasing the rent on month-to-month renters).

  11. Leticia Rodriguez says:

    My lanloard never mage any lease or agreement with me and she used to charge us 550 for rent but we only have four months here and now she wants to increase it thousand 100 she said by January she’ll raise it up to 1200 and this duplex isn’t nice it has paint peeling from ceiling mold no floor or rug she knows this but my boyfriend used to work for him so she was deducting us rent for him to work her building without him charging her two lie to him and tell him after she used him to do all the work already to tell him that he she no longer need your services anymore that his work is sloppy when knowing when he used to send her pictures of how he’s doing with the building she now wants disagree so now since he did all the work already she tried to say that she never asked him to do any of that stuff that he did that he did whatever he wanted to and that that wasn’t how she worked I knew from the start she was trying to screw us over because at the beginning she was pressuring us to fill out application so we can move in already and watch her duplexes but she told me man that she didn’t want him to move in the duplex we are in because she wanted to rent this duplex because it was roach free nothing like no bugs and besides that she didn’t charges a deposit security deposit and she didn’t didn’t give us a garage but she puts on the application that a garage is included and pet fee if we was to have pet she ended up charging us 100 dollars more month later due to things that we had inside the garage which she did not gave us one so she charges for renting it and told us to get our stuff out of the garage help me please I don’t know what to do with this lady and besides that she also discriminated against me when she told my boyfriend we both need to apply to the Cozy website but she told my boyfriend that she denied my application because of my income because I wasn’t able to afford it so she says help me please

  12. Alfreda Boles says:

    Every year they go up on rent. I pay my rent on time and I been in the same place since 2007. I believe that they are trying to get the section 8 people out. They didn’t even want to give me some of my money back for not having heat over a month and it gets to cold here in Minnesota.

  13. Maria Gtz. says:

    My Husband and Me have been living in this apartments for more the 25 yrs and every other year landlord raise rent last year from 450 went up to 500 this year a 30 day notice was giving of a rent raise for 600 a month ! I don’t think landlord is doing a 10% like law says so what should we do bout this who should we contact to fix this?

  14. hecuiwen@yahoo,comn says:

    Hi Kaycee,
    Thank you for your helpful article. My new landlord is going charge us with a 8% raise. I talked to other tenants and some of them have 10% or 5% raise. Is that legal? Can I use the 5% case to ask for a lower increase?
    Thank you,
    Kate

    • It’s really hard to say. Maybe your neighbors currently pay more, which is why the increase is less, and a 5% increase brings their rent equal to what you will pay when your rent increases 8%.

      Other reasons a unit might be a little lower rent in the same complex, shared walls, patios, washer/dryer, A/C, pet-friendly, bottom story vs. second story. There are lots of factors that go into setting the right rental rate and why some neighbors might have a higher or lower rent increase than you.

  15. SJ Sladek says:

    What really sucks is when the rent increases every year, but your paycheck doesn’t. I wish that was taken into account….that doesn’t seem right.

  16. Tony Totanes says:

    Very good article. Both for Landlords and Tenants.

  17. Kendall Baker says:

    Are there any rights for students facing a rent increase? We have signed a year long lease in a college town close to campus. Our sorority has passed down the house for 5+ year always ensuring that the house is occupied. We are all girls, no parties or pets. We are facing a 17% rent increase which is $100 a person. None of us work or have any form of steady income paying for school and living costs with student loans. We are all full time students looking to finish our degrees in 2019. We really do not want to have to move the year that we are graduating. There has been extensive construction next to our house by the city that literally shakes our house (we cannot put anything on the walls on that side of our house). With the construction the city has removed all of the trees and bushes on that side of our house that has greatly increased the cost of electricity in the house because of poor insulation from an old house and the loss of the neighboring foliage. Long story short, is there any type of protection for students that are already about to be drowning in student loans for insane rent increases?

    I have searches extensively on the topic, but cannot find anything pertaining to students.

    • Hi Kendall, first of all, congratulations on your upcoming graduation – the end is near, that’s awesome! I wish I had better news regarding your question about rent increases for students. There are no housing laws that protect students. And I am not sure if full-time students can qualify for low-income housing, which do have more rent-increase limitations.

      But did you sign the lease before the rent increase? You landlord should not be allowed to increase the rent in the middle of the lease term. I would also complain to the city about the construction if it is disrupting your right to quiet enjoyment. The construction sounds out of your landlord’s control, but the city might be able to do something about it.

      Rent increases are an unfortunate reality for all renters, but they can be especially scary for anyone with a fixed-income. Have you tried talking to your landlord about why the rent increase is happening and if he is willing to push it back a bit?

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