Protect Yourself from Rent Increases

Verani Realty

Young couple reviewing financesIf you are a renter, you probably worry that your landlord will eventually hike up the monthly rent payment to more than your budget will allow. Fact is, rental prices have been going nowhere but up for the last few years.

This trend may actually push some renters into becoming homebuyers, since mortgage payments with a fixed rate loan stay stable, and buying is often more affordable than renting in some areas.

But, if you love your rental, you should know you are not as vulnerable as you may fear.  There are some rules your landlord must follow.

When can a landlord raise the rent?

The good news here is your landlord cannot just raise your rent whenever he or she decides the property is worth more. He or she must wait until the lease agreement you have both signed has expired. So, if you have a signed lease for one year, no rate hike can occur until that year is up.

What if you rent month to month? Same scenario based upon the rental terms – your rent can’t be raised until the next month rolls around

How much can a landlord increase the rent?

The sad truth is, as much as he or she wants to, unless you live in a rent-controlled apartment, which is rare. In most cases there are no rules, and it’s totally up to the landlord what to charge for rent.

How much advance notice will you get?

In most cases landlords are legally required to give tenants at least 30 days’ notice of a rent increase. However, if the increase is greater than 10%, some states require 60 days’ notice.

How can you protect yourself?

You cannot stop rental costs from rising, but you can make sure you are given the advance notice the law requires. Here’s how:

  • Keep track of every piece of correspondence you receive from your landlord. Read every word.
  • If you are speaking in person with your landlord, keep track of the dates of each conversation and take notes about anything discussed that relates to your lease or the property.
  • Get any agreement in writing. If your landlord verbally tells you the upcoming rent hike will only be $25 more per month, get it in writing as soon as possible. Don’t wait until you get the official notice– he or she may rethink things based upon you being comfortable with a $25 hike and raise it further.

If a rent hike is coming, you may want to consider buying a home as a more affordable, price-stable option. Contact a mortgage lender to see if you pre-qualify and sit down with a real estate agent to get an idea of what is available in your price range.

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