What to Do If You Get a Rent Increase Notice
Everyone wants their monthly rent payments to stay the same or decrease when their lease is expiring, but sometimes landlords must increase their monthly rent. This is called a rent increase and is typically delivered in the form of a letter than informs residents that their rent prices are increasing. It's a shocking notification to find in your mailbox, especially if you haven't experienced a rent increase notice before. The best way to approach this situation is to research all your options, review your current lease and understand your lease terms.
Read on to learn what to do if you receive a rent increase notice and how to navigate this common situation. With the right tips and planning, the process can go smoothly and possibly prevent you from having to move.
Why does my rent go up every year?
The cost of rent across the U.S. has risen steadily throughout 2023. It isn't uncommon to find yourself with a rent increase when your lease is close to expiring. Look for an explanation in your notice that specifies what the rent increase is for.
Many landlords raise rent to cover the cost of renovations and maintenance costs, like when they update kitchens to look more modern or work to improve the property's curb appeal. Even though you're being asked to pay more, these changes will ultimately benefit you if you choose to stay. This may make a rent increase easier to accept.
What is the most my landlord can raise the rent within a lease agreement?
Landlords should know how much they can legally raise your rent. Tenants can always find legal assistance and investigate this according to local and state rent regulations.
How much your landlord can raise rent will depend on where you live. Tenant laws vary by city and state, so make sure to know the ones that apply to you. For example, if your city or state says a 3% rent increase is the maximum allowance, your landlord must stay at or below that legal limit. Still, in many states, no laws exist to limit rent increases, which will make it more of an uphill battle to refute the increase legally.
Some cities also pass laws to make the area rent-controlled, which can include much more detailed regulations. Sometimes, these laws place a total cap on rent with a stabilization ordinance. Other times, they may limit rent increase frequency by stating that landlords can only change the rental rate a certain number of times every year.
How do you calculate rent increases under a lease agreement?
To determine if your rent increase is legal, you can calculate the percentage change between the old and new totals. Subtract your current cost of rent from the new one to get the difference. Then divide that answer by the current rent amount. You'll get a small decimal number, which you'll then multiply by 100 to get the percentage expression.
The final percentage expression should follow the rental laws in your state and city and not extend past the number of rent increases allowed per year, if applicable.
How much notice is given?
It's essential to note that landlords typically send a rent increase notice 30 days from when the first higher payment is due. This 30-day period gives tenants time to read through the information and potentially appeal if they want to seek legal action. If you don't get a 30-day notice before you have to pay your next bill, a court may invalidate the increase if you didn't receive it within the time limit required by your city or state known as a state notice period.
Look for an explanation for the rent increase notice
Finding a rent increase letter can be a jarring experience, but you don't have to accept it without taking any action. Look for an explanation that justifies the increase, like using the money for new appliances or landscaping upgrades.
If you have any remaining questions about your lease agreement after reading the rent increase notice, you can always contact local housing advocates to decide on potential next steps so you retain your fair rent pricing.