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What to Know When Your Landlord Raises the Rent

An Official Notice of a Nelson County Rental IncreaseAs a tenant, increases in rent are not welcome at all. And while many Nelson County property managers aim to raise rates only occasionally and fairly, others will raise rents to unsustainable levels with little to no warning, leaving you with few alternatives. Competitive rental markets and a scarcity of affordable housing have compounded the problem, causing renters to sometimes feel trapped and helpless. 

So, what options do tenants have when faced with an increase in rent? Are there regulations that your landlord must abide by? What does the law say about rent increases? Having the answers to these questions is a good starting point for easily addressing any rent increase. 

Is there a limit to how much a landlord can raise the rent? 

Most states allow landlords to raise the rent at the conclusion of a lease by any amount as long as they give the required period of notice. However, several cities and states have rent control laws that regulate the amount and frequency of rent increases required by landlords. For instance, a landlord is only entitled to raise the rent by a maximum of 10% plus any local rent control adjustments in California. Additionally, they must offer sufficient notice before the rent increase is due. Rent control regulations exist in several other places, including New York City, Oregon, Washington D.C., and parts of New Jersey. 

What does the law say regarding rent increases? 

Rent increases are not currently governed by federal law. Many renters may view this as terrible news, especially if they reside in an already costly housing market. However, discriminatory or retaliatory rent increases are forbidden under federal fair housing laws. This means that they cannot increase the rent for a tenant based on their race, disability, religion, gender, or national origin, nor can they boost the rent if you have been late with your payments. 

What choices do tenants who are facing a rent rise have? You have certain rights as a renter, even if the law does not ban rent hikes. First, it is essential to review your rental agreement or lease to determine if there are provisions regarding rent hikes. Sometimes, a lease will include the amount of notice required for a rent increase and the maximum increase allowed. A lease is a legally binding contract, therefore your landlord is required to abide by the conditions. Understanding your state landlord/tenant laws is also recommended; this topic is frequently covered here. 

Occasionally, your landlord may be required to provide an explanation for a rent increase. The landlord might not be able to lawfully raise the rent if they cannot provide a good justification for it, such as property renovations or market value changes. 

If rent hikes aren’t covered under your agreement, you might want to attempt bargaining with your landlord. This can entail negotiating a longer lease in exchange for maintaining the present rent or recommending different payment plans if the increase is too significant. Yet, remember that the landlord is not required to come to an agreement with you. 

Alternatively, you could file a complaint with your state or local housing agency if you believe your landlord’s rent increase violates state or local law, your lease terms, or other laws. They might be in a position to conduct an investigation, assist in negotiating a settlement, or offer legal support. 

Your alternatives may include looking for a new rental or subletting the space if the increase is lawful, negotiation doesn’t work, and you can’t pay the additional rent (make sure to check your lease to ensure this is allowable). If your landlord is agreeable, finding a roommate or subletting your apartment may be a viable option for you to remain in your home. 

In addition to these alternatives, some renters feel wounded or outraged and wish to take action to oppose the rent rise. Although such a response is understandable, it is not prudent. For instance, it is not advised to withhold rent due to anger over a rent rise, as this can result in eviction proceedings. Similarly, refusing to take responsibility to keep the rental property clean and in excellent repair is likely to be detrimental. It is essential to keep in mind that violating the conditions of your lease can have repercussions, so be careful to investigate your legal rights and available alternatives before making any decisions. 

Knowing your options and rights as a tenant in the event of a rent rise is crucial. To determine the appropriate course of action for your unique circumstance, it may also be good to seek legal counsel. 

 

If you’re looking to rent a home that’s managed professionally and fairly, check out what Real Property Management Cairn has to offer. You can call our office or view our listings online.                 

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.