You’ve finally found the perfect home for an affordable price. All your hours of apartment-hunting have finally paid off - congratulations! But quickly following that sigh of relief comes a worrisome thought: will it always be affordable? And if the rent goes up next month, will you still have enough to pay your rent and live comfortably? Renting comes with a lot of uncertainty, and if you're a first-time renter, you might find this overwhelming. But don't worry! We’ve got all the information you need about rent increase laws in this blog.

Before you sign a lease agreement, we’d like you to think about a few questions:

  • Can your landlord raise your rent? If yes, by how much?

  • Are there rent control laws you can look up?

  • Will you be given a rent increase notice or a rent increase letter?

If you know the answers to all of these questions and are satisfied with the terms, you can sign your contract without worrying. However, if you're unsure, now's the time to ask, before you're tied into a lengthy contract.

In this blog, we're going to tell you all about rent increase laws. We hope this information will help you make an informed choice when signing for an apartment.

Related: 5 Mistakes To Avoid As a First Time Apartment Renter in NYC

Before we dive into the big questions, let’s look at a few terms that may seem scary, but we promise you, they’re pretty simple to understand.

What are rent control laws?

If you’re a first-time renter, it’s important for you to find out if you live in a rent-controlled area or not. This means there’s a limit to how much your landlord can charge you. Sometimes referred to as rent increase laws, these laws also put a cap on how much your landlord can raise your rent by. Apart from Oregon, no other state has a uniform rent control policy! That said, according to Investopedia, you can find 192 municipalities across New York, New Jersey, California, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. that are governed by some form of rent increase laws. So, if you’re looking to rent in one of these states and you’re worried about your rent changing, keep an eye out for apartments in these areas!

Related: Understanding Lease Terminologies: A Lease Guide for Students

When can a landlord raise the rent?

So, if you live in a rent-controlled municipality, can your landlord raise rent? The answer is yes. We now know there’s a limit to how much it can go up by. But another question to answer is, when can your landlord raise the rent? And does this change if you live in an area that’s not governed by rent increase laws? Well, unfortunately, your landlord can raise your rent at any time, without giving you a reason, irrespective of where you live.

They can do this by serving you a rent increase notice. Keep reading to find what a rent increase notice is and what you can do if you don’t receive one.

What is a rent increase notice?

Simply put, a rent increase notice is the amount of warning your landlord is legally obliged to give you before implementing a higher rent. Depending on where you live and the rent increase laws in the area, your notice period may vary. However, a minimum of 30 days’ notice is usually the norm.

In some cases, your rent cannot be increased until the period of your current lease is over. This means you get to choose whether you agree to the new rent before you sign a new lease contract.

To sum up, based on whether you have a month-to-month arrangement or a yearly one, your rent increase notice may vary. But either way, according to the law, you must be served with a rent increase notice ahead of time.

Related:Tenant Rights In NYC That Landlords Must Comply With

What can you do with a rent increase letter?

If your landlord has given you a rent increase letter, there are a few ways you might proceed. Intuitively, you might think you can only accept or reject it. But we’re here to discuss a few more options that are available to you.

Firstly, you can check if all of the regulations have been properly met. This means checking both the rent increase laws in your area for the amount it can increase by as well as the notice that you should’ve been given. Then, you could try to negotiate the increase directly with your landlord if you feel it’s too steep.

However, if you find your landlord too intimidating to handle on your own, you can always ask your neighbors how they feel about it and get them to help!

When can you fight the rent increase?

Are you stuck in a situation where your landlord has been charging you increased rent from the beginning of the month instead of the end? Even if you live in an area with no rent increase laws, the rent increase notice is mandatory, and you can file a civil suit against your landlord for ignoring this!

Here’s another example: you’ve had a disagreement with your landlord and now you’re worried they’ll increase your rent as a way of getting you back. Well, in this instance, you can rest easy, because they’ll be liable in a civil suit for taking such action. To start off with, you can send your landlord a written complaint. If this fails, rest assured that, legally, you’re in the right.

How often can your landlord raise the rent?

This is another question that you, as a first-time renter, might be thinking about. While there is no set number of times that your landlord can raise the rent, one good thing is that the rental market is on your side. If your landlord increases the rent too often, you’re more likely to find another apartment that’s more suitable to your lifestyle. Remember to ask your landlord as many questions as you like before you sign the lease!

Related: 12 Questions To Ask Your Landlord Before Signing A Lease

So, what next?

Finding an apartment with all the amenities you need and close to your school/work can be quite a tough task! If you’ve persevered this far, take solace in knowing that your happy ending is just around the corner. We’ve given you all the information you need to know about rent increases so you have all the facts before you make a decision.

If you’re renting for the first time away from your home country, furnishing landlords with proof of income or a good credit score may be something else you’re trying to figure out. We can be your Guarantor in just three simple steps! Click on this link and contact us today. Together, we’ll help you get that perfect apartment.