Know Your Rights If Your Landlord Raises Your Rent
When you are settling upon a lease agreement with your landlord you are committing to a set price on your rent in the process. You may choose your place of residence based solely upon the price if it is important to you to remain within a strict budget. If your landlord decides to raise your rent in the middle of your lease, you may be scraping to get by if you cannot afford the added cost each month. As a tenant, you have rights in this situation to protect you from falling into an illegal trap set by your landlord.
There are circumstances where a landlord is legally allowed to raise your rent and there are times when he or she may have chosen to do so illegally. Once you determine whether the increase was legal or illegal you can begin the process of addressing the issue in either situation. Knowing your tenant rights can protect you from having your living rights violated.
When is a landlord allowed to raise the rent?
When your landlord has decided to raise the rent, you must ensure he or she has done so legally before you begin to pay the adjusted amount. If you live in a city where you are guaranteed rent control, then your landlord is not allowed to raise your rent for any reason.
A landlord primarily raises the rent when a tenant has a month-to-month rental agreement in lieu of a formal lease. For those who have a formal lease, the landlord is not permitted to raise the rent until the agreed upon lease period is over. Tenants who wish to renew the lease once the original period is complete may have to agree to a rent increase if the landlord wants more money for the rental property.
If you have agreed to a month-to-month rental contract instead of a formal lease, your landlord is permitted to raise your rent, or adjust any additional terms in your agreement, at any given point. He or she is required to present you with a 30-day notice of the rent increase and he or she must present this notice in writing for it to remain binding.
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It is illegal for your landlord to raise your rent as a retaliation tactic following an argument you may have had. If you issued a formal complaint regarding the condition of your apartment because improvements needed to be made and your landlord raises your rent after this complaint, this counts as an illegal action. If your landlord chooses to raise your rent for discriminatory reasons, such as basing how much he or she wants you to pay on your race or religion, this is illegal as well.
You may need to seek assistance from an attorney to have the matter settled and ensure your rights are not being taken away from you. Most attorneys will listen to your case for free, only charging you if you need to retain their services in court or to negotiate with your landlord.
What to Do When Your Landlord Legally Raises the Rent
If you have determined your landlord has legally raised your rent within his or her rightful privileges, you need to decide what the best choice is for you moving forward. The prospect of finding a new apartment may be daunting, especially if you have settled into this residence for a prolonged period already. For those who want to remain in their apartment despite an increase in rent, you have the option of speaking with your landlord directly about the situation.
While you cannot take legal action against your landlord for rightfully raising your rent, you can have a conversation with him or her about the change in price. For your landlord, owning and renting apartments is a business transaction and you may be able to appeal to their business nature by discussing the rise in rent further. Remind your landlord about the positive aspect of retaining you as a tenant by discussing how you are reliable with your rent payments and have not damaged the interior or exterior of the property.
Landlords prefer long-term tenants as this can dissolve the possibility of dealing with evictions, noise complaints and other difficulties associated with difficult tenants. If you speak with your landlord about how you want to continue to live in your apartment but cannot afford the increase in price, he or she may be willing to leave your rent as it currently stands, at least for the remainder of your lease. At the very least, he or she may consider reducing how much the rent increases.
You have the option of renting a new apartment if you decide you do not want to pay the increased rent amount and if you are unable to reason with your landlord about leaving the price alone. If this is the case, you can look for rent control options for your next residence to ensure you do not have to face the possibility of dealing with another rent increase in the future.
How to Respond to an Illegal Raise in Your Rent
If your landlord has illegally raised your rent due to discrimination or retaliation, you may seek assistance from the local business association or local bar association to resolve the issue. Both departments are capable of handling mediation when it comes to raised rent disputes and can help you identify the source for the increase.
In seeking assistance to deal with the rent increase you are protecting your rights as a tenant and are ensuring your landlord does not get away with illegal actions. Members of the bar or business association can help you file a claim with the Department of Housing and Urban Development if it has been determined your landlord has violated the Fair Housing Act.
If you want to seek legal help in the matter you can file a claim in your local small claims court to dictate the terms of your lease and how your landlord illegally raised your rent. Your landlord has the right to file a claim against you as well and you must be prepared to handle this scenario if it unfolds. If your landlord has filed a claim against you, be prepared to defend yourself in court by supplying the documents necessary to plead your case.
Related Article: How to Negotiate the Cost of Rent
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