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One of the most cringe worthy moments in a renter’s life is the day they receive a notice that their rent is increasing. There’s little to no recourse, but there ways you can offset the increased expense so that it doesn’t throw your monthly budget into a complete tailspin.
Landlords hold complete authority over their property and may charge tenants living on their property a reasonable rent. While states may have best practices for setting monthly rent rates. There is no real law that limits how much a property owner can charge a tenant for rent.
There are certain situations when your landlord’s right to control rent is waived. For instance, if your current lease fails to address rent increases your landlord can’t raise the rent until the lease expires.
Should you choose to renew your lease, you and the landlord would need to renegotiate the lease terms anyway and, if he or she chose to increase the rent, that rate would need to be documented and would be good for the life of the lease. Even if you’re on a month-to-month arrangement the landlord can choose to increase the monthly rent at the start of each cycle if he or she chooses.
Landlords have no restriction over how much they can increase in most of the states. However, there are additional restrictions if you live in a rent-controlled city or building. NYC is one of the biggest cities with rent controlled apartments in which landlords have limits on how much of an increase they can impose. Otherwise, landlords have free reign over setting the rate.
Landlords almost always send the tenant notice before increasing their rental rate. It’s not only a best practice but also a courtesy for the tenant so that they can decide if they want to renew their lease at a higher rate or find a new place to live.
Rent increases usually come as the cost of living in the city increases; it shouldn’t be done as a form of retaliation.
The increase may happen to correspond with a recent denied request for amenity updates or resident complaints. Even still, landlords shouldn’t take offense and increase rent to retaliate. This is unethical and should be discouraged.
There are different sets of rules that govern rental agreements in each state. While you may not know the ins and out of the law, it’s a good idea to have a high-level understanding of what’s considered legal in your state. You should also know if the rate increase is appropriate based on your state’s rules should such rules exist. This is especially true if you live in a rent controlled building.
Leases are long legal documents few tenants read in-depth due to the amount of legal jargon included.
When you receive notice of a rental increase, check your lease to see if it addresses how increases should be addressed and if the document notes limits or frequency of such increases.
If the increase poses a financial hardship for you and you have no desire to move, reach out to your landlord. Discuss the matter and let them know your financial constraints and perhaps even propose a rate that you would feel more comfortable paying. If you have a good relationship with your landlord and have a history of paying rent on time payments. Chances are your landlord will accept your request.
However, if the landlord is reluctant to meet you halfway on a new rent rate. Offer your landlord another option to increasing the rent. Such as offering to pay rent ahead of time or extending the lease. Finding a new tenant is often more trouble than working with the one you have. So don’t be surprised if the landlord agrees to your proposal.
If you happen to know your neighbors and feel comfortable, ask them how much they pay for rent. It may be possible to negotiate a better rate based on what other similarly situated tenants are paying.
Landlords have the right to increase rents as they wish, but you also have the right to negotiate. Boldly make your landlord an offer he or she can’t refuse you may be surprised when it works in your favor.