Tenants, at the turn of the year, renew the lease with the hope that the landlord’s increased rent stays within their housing budget. Being a renter in a city like NYC, one can’t afford frequent shifting and everyone tries to live in the same apartment for as long as they can.
But, there are some situations when landlords’ proposed rent goes out of your reach and they force a move-out. Have you ever wondered how much landlords can increase the rent? What do the NYC rules say about it? Is there any protection for the tenants in such a situation?
If not, don’t worry, this guide will clear all your doubts regarding rent increase laws, and next time your landlord goes wild, you will have an upper hand.
First thing first – your landlord can’t increase rent randomly. He/She is bound to follow the lease signed by both parties and has to wait until the lease expires. If you have signed a month-to-month lease. The landlord can’t increase rent before the end of the month and the same applies to a yearly lease contract. You can learn more about lease renewal here.
Generally, a 30-day prior notice is required but the duration varies from state to state. For example in California, the period is 60 days if the rent increase is more than 10%. And in New York City, a landlord must give a 30 days’ notice if they plan to enforce the rent increment by 5% or more.
In the case of rooming houses where you pay weekly, one would assume a notice of 7 days but that’s not the case. Tenant law says that the landlord must give prior notice of 30 days in sharing apartments as well.
Renters are at the mercy of landlords but regardless of the renter landlord relationship, NYC laws offer plenty to protect New Yorkers.
Unfortunately, only your landlord can answer this question. At the time of lease renewal, your wallet is at the mercy of your landlord’s wish. With no law in place for that, landlords can double, triple, and even quadruple the rent.
Don’t panic, you may never experience such a situation as landlords need to compete in the rental market, and raising rent exponentially means fewer tenants.
One important thing to note here is that landlords can’t increase rent to punish tenants. An increase in rent as a punishment is known as a punitive rent increase.
For instance, if you complain about the outdated appliances or condition of the apartment, landlords, in turn, can hike up the rent but don’t worry. You can take legal action if your landlord increases rent punitively.
Your rent can’t be increased from a certain amount if you are living in a rent controlled or rent stabilized apartment. Strict govt. laws are in place for such apartments but you must know that you are living in a rent-stabilized apartment.
Increasing rent retroactively means increasing rent from the backdate. Yes, that’s right, not only do you have to pay the increased rent but have to pay for last month. That’s wrong and illegal too.
As discussed before, your landlord has to give 30 days prior notice before enforcing rent increase and in such cases, you have a few legal rights under your sleeves.
But if you received a notice and you didn’t comply with that. Then you have to pay the rent, even retroactive as well.
Security deposit is one month of rent paid by the tenant before the lease signing. And the increase in rent means an increase in your security deposit. However, you can negotiate with the landlord at lease renewal and request to keep the deposit the same.
Depending on your relationship with the landlord, he/she may agree to the compromise. If you have damaged the property, chances are you won’t be getting a favor.
Sad to say that landlords do not follow the law while increasing rent. However, if you have solid reasons to believe that your landlord has increased the rent without notice or increased it retroactively, then you can take legal action.
The first thing you can do is to send a written letter to the landlord covering your concerns regarding the rent increase. And don’t forget to keep track of all the documents and verbal discussions to make your case strong.
The rent increase is a subjective matter and varies from landlord to landlord but crossing the limits is not acceptable. Whether you are a renter or landlord, it is important to get an inside of rent increase laws so you have a good time going forward.
And if your landlord wants a long term renter and you don’t want to leave your apartment soon, chances are both of you will enjoy a long term relationship.