Is Your Rent Getting Raised? Make Sure You Know Your Rights & Options

By Myles Leva


Last Updated: May 2, 2023


If you’re in for a rent increase, you’re far from alone.

From 2021 to 2022 alone, the average rent in the US went up from $941 to $1,169 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Want more space than that? Well, the increases have been even more substantial.

With year-over-year rent increases of 5.77% for the last 5 years, it’s important to:

  1. Be financially prepared for rent increases
  2. Know your rights as a tenant

In this article, we will cover the regulations relevant to your next rent increase. We will ensure you know what your landlord can do, and what they can’t.



Are there rules around rent increases?

Yes, there are many rules around rent increases.

The only problem is that in the US, they vary greatly by state and even by city. An American in one apartment may have very strong protections. Then, another American in an apartment in a different state may have only the barebones federal regulations protecting them.



What is the most a landlord can raise rent?

The answer to this question varies by state.

The first thing you should note is that there are no federal limits on how much landlords can increase your rent. The only sweeping regulation in the US is that your landlord must first give you 30 days’ notice before the increase.

In addition to this, we can generalize across the US by lease type. Some lease types favor tenants, and others favor landlords.


Month to month leases

With a month to month lease, you the tenant have more flexibility. If you have a month to month lease, the landlord must follow a few steps if they want to increase your rent.

First, that 30 days’ written notice must be provided.

Tenants must always be given 30 days to either adjust to the increase or find another place to live.

Next, the landlord normally needs to justify the rent increase.

The terms of the lease may provide them with some justification, but lease terms can also favor the tenants in some ways.

For example, many leases enable landlords to increase rent to cover increased costs, according to market rates for property taxes and bills. In this regard, rent increase rules are quite contextual.

Again, month to month leases are regulated at the local level. Even within a state, a different municipality may have different rules. But in the absence of local regulations, a landlord can increase the rent as much as they want as long as sufficient notice is provided.


Long-term Lease

Long-term leases normally provide more protection for tenants. Landlords normally have to wait longer until their planned rent increases can take effect.

Increases for long-term leases are conducted according to the lease cycle. For an annual lease, the landlord can raise the rent after it ends. Apart from that, the specific regulations/restrictions vary by state.

In any case, landlords must adhere to the terms set out in the lease agreement. If it specifies a specific amount for the entire lease period, then they cannot change that rate until the lease period ends.

But when it does, they can increase the rent for the next lease period, which is when you can decide whether or not to sign the new lease.

Again, if the landlord plans on increasing the rent, they must normally give you at least 30 days’ notice.

In many states and cities, there are regulations on how much you can increase the rent on long-term leases.

The most common regulations are rent-control laws that place a set limit on the percentage rate increase your landlord is allowed to make.



Can a landlord raise rent in the middle of a lease?

Normally, your landlord may not legally increase your rent in the middle of your lease. That is both illegal and violates the basic logic of a lease.

Of course, the only exceptions to this rule are leases with specific terms for rent increases. Some leases provide a clause to an increase during the lease period. If your lease has this stipulation, you implicitly agreed to it when you signed the lease agreement.

Your landlord can increase your rent according to the terms laid out. In any other case, they are breaking the law by trying to force a rent increase that violates a signed contract.



How much notice needs to be given for a rent increase?

The normal minimum across the US is 30 days.

In most cases, somewhere between 30 days and 60 days of notice is required. The standard is normally that the notice be in writing.

Localities often have specific regulations for:

  • The exact amount of time between the notice and increase
  • The percentage rate by which you are allowed to raise rent
  • The justifications that must be provided for an increase

So, you must look into the state and local regulations to know whether your landlord is increasing your rent legally.



Raised rent: What are my options?

Assuming the rent increase is legal according to federal, state, and local regulations, as well as according to the specifics laid out in your lease, you have to abide. That means you either need to accept the increase for which you were given adequate notice, or you need to move out.

What you can do in this situation depends on a few things.

If you have some rapport with your landlord, you could always ask if they could not increase the rent, or at least raise it by less. Landlords don’t always make the most practical choices. If they are forcing you to move out with the rent increase, they can face challenges finding new tenants.

So, do some quick research to find out if the new rent follows the logic of the local market.

If you get along with your landlord, they may be willing to compromise. After all, if you pay rent on time and have been a good tenant, it can cost them a lot to switch you out for another tenant, who may or may not be as good a tenant as you.

There is plenty of risk on the landlord’s side, so try emphasizing the stability and safety they have keeping you as a tenant who is charged a reasonable rent.

If there is no compromise to be had, you will have to accept the change or move out. This will require a reassessment of your budget and probably plenty of moving expenses.



Rent Increases: Know Your Options!

Rent increases are hard to deal with, but the average rent is likely to keep rising anyway. So, it’s important to understand your rights.

Photo by Max Rahubovskiy


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