If you’ve just received a notice from your landlord that your rent is set to increase, you’re probably interested in learning what your options are. While your very first instinct may be to just pack it in and move out, but there are other options are your disposal that don’t necessitate total upheaval.
Before we get into the specifics of your options, let’s answer a few important questions,
Is my landlord allowed to increase my rent?
Chances are good that the answer to this question is yes. While they aren’t legally allowed to raise rent in the middle of a lease, but if you are nearing the end of your lease, or are renting on a month-to-month basis, they can raise your rent and only need to give notice in order to do so.
On the other hand, if your building or the area in which you live is rent-controlled or rent-stabilized, you may have a good case against your landlord. If you believe that your landlord is unlawfully raising your rent, you will want to get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible.
Why do landlords raise rent?
Well the simple answer is this: more money! But it can be a little bit more complex than that. Sometimes a landlord raises rent to help pay for upgrades and repairs to the building. Another common reason is a local increase in property taxes. Other reasons include inflation, rising neighborhood costs, and more.
The truth is, the matter doesn’t much matter. If they want to increase the rent, they can. If they thing their renters will pay, there’s very little downside for the land owner.
Now that those basic questions have been answered, let’s look into some options at your disposal.
How to negotiate with your landlord
This may be the very first thing you try. It is very important, however, to remember that you do not have a whole lot of negotiating power to start with when negotiating. After all, you’re not the owner. If you want to ask them to take back the increase, or at least increase the rent less than what they originally asked, you’re going to have to be incredibly political and tactful.
Here are a few ways you can start the conversation:
- If you want, you can offer to sign another lease – perhaps even a multi-year lease to encourage your landowner to lower the rent increase. While they may not be getting the amount month-to-month that they originally asked for, there is certainly value in knowing that your unit is locked up for several years.
- Another option is to change the terms of your lease so that it ends during a busier time in the renting market. If your lease ends in the winter months, when renting is less common, to summer, when it’s more common, you’re landlord might be willing to put a halt on that increase.
- Your final common option might be to simply bring up your record as a responsible and model tenant. Make the case that while you may not be able to pay the extra amount, you have always paid on time and have never caused any trouble. If might be enough to convince them to give you a better deal in terms of your lease.
How much will my rent be raised?
Typically, a rent increase signals a percent rise somewhere between 2-3%. While it’s not a whole lot, if your rent increase 2-3% every year, you might be looking at a much larger monthly rent than you first signed on to.
Even if you don’t achieve lower rent, you could achieve other things
The truth is, you might not get the rent increase to not take place, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from getting in touch with your landlord.
Even if you do not keep the rent increase from taking place, you could convince them to offer you something in return. You could convince them to make improvements in your unit, you could convince them to clean or repair carpeting, or replace outdated fixtures. Again, these are totally up to the discretion of your landlord, but at least you have a bargaining chip with this when otherwise you’re simply asking and hoping they uphold their end of the deal.
If you’re considering leaving
Before you let your landlord know that you will not be accepting the rent increase and would rather move out, don’t make a rash decision. Sure, it never feels good to feel like you’re having one pulled over you, but this is not the time to make an emotional decision.
Think about all the things that go into moving. All the costs, the time, the overall strain. If you believe that all that is worth paying less on your monthly lease, then it is definitely time to move. If not, you may want to consider staying around a bit longer.
One useful thing to do is to make a list of reasons to move and not to move. To get you started, here are some major deciding factors:
Reasons to go:
- The rent increase is more than you can afford
- You could find cheaper locations in the region you live in
- Moving will save you money in the long-term
- Building managers are bad at their jobs
- The upkeep of the property is subpar
- You learn that some tenants are paying far less than you
Reasons to say:
- The increased rent is still comparable to apartments in your area
- Maintenance is responsive and completes tasks in timely manner
- The landlord is reliable and easy to contact
- Neighborhood is safe and nice to live in
- Moving is expensive and it is an inconvenient time of year to move
- The change in rent is small
In the end, it is entirely up to you and whoever you live with in terms of what you decide to do when you get a notice of a rent increase. While it could be time to make a move, it may also be worth it to stand pat and simply accept the increased rate.