Tip of the Month - March, 2017
HOW MUCH CAN YOU RAISE THE RENT?
Source: Landlord’s Legal Guide
By: Marcia Stewart & Attorneys Ralph Warner & Janet Portman
In areas without rent
control, there is no limit on the amount you can increase the rent of a
month-to-month or other periodic tenant. Similarly, there is no
restriction on the period of time between rent increases. You can
legally raise the rent as much and as often as good business
dictates. Of course, common sense should tell you that if
your tenants think your increases are unfair, you may end up with
vacant units or a hostile group of tenants looking for ways to make you
miserable. As a courtesy, you may wish to tell your tenants
personally, perhaps explaining the reasons, although reasons are not
legally necessary, except in areas covered by rent control.
You cannot legally raise a tenant’s rent as
retaliation-for example, in response to a legitimate complaint or
rent-withholding action or in a discriminatory manner. The laws in many
states actually presume retaliation if you increase rent
soon-typically, within three to six months-after a tenant’s complaint
of defective conditions.
One way to protect yourself from charges that ordinary
rent increases are retaliatory or discriminatory is to adopt a sensible
rent-increase policy and stick to it. Make sure to inform your
tenants about the rent increase in advance and apply the increase
uniformly to all your tenants.
Except in cities with rent control, your freedom to
raise rent depends primarily on whether the tenant has a lease or a
month to month rental agreement. When the lease or rental
agreement expires, you can present the tenant with a new lease that has
a higher rent or other changed terms. It is always safer to give
the tenant at least a month or two advance notice.
This web page was updated on 03/01/2017.