What to Do If Your Landlord Increases Your Rent: A Comprehensive Guide

What to Do If Your Landlord Increases Your Rent: A Comprehensive Guide

A notice from your landlord announcing a significant rent increase can send shockwaves through your routine. Especially if the proposed increase makes the rent unaffordable, it's essential to understand your rights, options, and what steps to take. Whether you've just received a 25% rent increase notice or are merely preparing for the future, this guide can help you understand what to do if your landlord increases your rent.

Understanding Rent Increases

Rent increases are a common part of the rental landscape. Landlords might raise rent due to increased property taxes, insurance costs, or maintenance expenses. Some simply align their prices with the local rental market's average. While no renter likes a rent hike, it's essential to realize that landlords, in most cases, are legally allowed to do so. However, there are limits and regulations in place.

Rent Control Laws and Limits on Rent Increases

Landlords' freedom to increase rent isn't limitless. Many jurisdictions enforce rent control laws, which govern the percentage a landlord can hike up rent within a year. For instance, Oregon caps the increase at the Consumer Price Index plus 7%, while California has a more complex rule. A few other states, such as New York, New Jersey, and Washington D.C., allow their cities or counties to enforce rent control laws. However, the majority of US states either have no such laws or ban rent control altogether.

Which states have rent control laws? 

Out of 50 US states and the federal district of DC, only two places have statewide rent control laws. And the lucky states are Oregon and California

Oregon is the only place that controls rent increases throughout its entire state. Given state laws, municipalities can't place their own rent control laws on top of that. Landlords in Oregon are only allowed to increase the rent according to the Consumer Price Index plus 7%

On the other hand, California has statewide caps. They, additionally, allow cities to set specific rent control laws. Californian landlords can only raise the rent by 5% plus the increase in the regional Consumer Price Index. Landlords also get a second option. They can increase the rent by 10% off the lowest rental rate from the past 12 months. However, they must choose the option that provides the lowest rent. 

What other states have rent control laws? 

Technically there are no other states with rent control laws. But not all hope is lost. 

New York and New Jersey allow cities or counties to implement rent control laws. Washington, D.C. also controls rent increases in the district. 

Maryland only has one city with rent stabilization: Takoma Park. In the city, an annual rent stabilization allowance gets published every spring. This tells landlords the maximum rent price they can charge for that year. 

Here's a list of every other location that has rent policies set in place. 

The following states preempt rent control. What this means is that all municipalities within the state are banned from controlling or stabilizing rent. 

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin

All the other states that weren't mentioned in the list above have no rent control laws. Since they don't preempt rent control, there's always a chance of cities placing laws in the future. 

What To Do if Your Landlord Increases Your Rent?

Here's what to do if your landlord increases your rent. First, review your lease agreement. If you signed a fixed-term lease, your landlord can't raise your rent until it's time for renewal. Month-to-month renters should be alert to changes in terms, including rent. Second, be aware of how often and how much your landlord can raise the rent, which can vary by location and lease terms. Lastly, ensure you receive a proper notice. Most states mandate a written notice at least 30 days before the rent increase takes effect.

When is a Rent Increase Illegal?

Some situations make a rent increase illegal. If your lease has a rule against rent increases or if your landlord didn't provide an appropriate advance rent increase notice, the hike might be unlawful. It's also illegal if the landlord is raising the rent as retaliation, as a forced eviction method, or as an act of discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. If you signed a fixed-term lease, your landlord can't raise your rent until it expires or is up for renewal. However, renters paying month-to-month abide by different rules. These agreements allow landlords to increase the rent or change the terms of their lease.

Rent increases can sometimes go against tenant laws. Here are a few situations where it would be illegal for a landlord to raise your rent

  1. Your lease has a rule against rent increases. 
  2. Your landlord didn't give you the appropriate advance rent increase notice. 
  3. Your landlord is trying to raise the rent before your lease expires. 
  4. Your unit is rent-controlled. 
  5. The rent increase acts as retaliation against you- the tenant. 
  6. Your landlord is increasing your rent to force you to move out. 
  7. The rent increase is an act of discrimination against you, under the Fair Housing Act
  8. Your landlord is raising the rent more than the allowed amount (only applicable in certain cities). 

Strategies for Those Who Can't Afford the Rent Increase

If your landlord has legally raised the rent but you can't afford it, you're not without options. Consider searching for rent-controlled units, expanding your search to more affordable areas, or signing a longer fixed-term lease. Negotiating with your landlord is also worth a try. Moreover, shared living can significantly cut your expenses. Remember, keeping a good relationship with your landlord is essential, especially for a positive reference for your future rentals.

If you do decide to move out, keep these renting tips in mind: 

  1. Consider looking into rent-controlled units (if they exist in your area)
  2. Expand your rental search by looking in more suburban areas. These areas usually have way cheaper rent. 
  3. Go for a longer fixed-term lease. If you know you're here to stay, try getting a lease that is more than a year long. 
  4. It never hurts to negotiate rent prices. You can always try your hand at it! Who knows? A landlord might be inclined to accept your request (especially if it's the low-peak season).
  5. Roommates usually mean cheaper rent. The easiest way to knock your rent down a handful of dollars is to live with others. It's also a good solution for those who love company or living with other people!

How Much Notice Does a Landlord Need To Give for Rent Increases?

In most states, landlords have to give written notice at least 30 days before the intended rent raise.

On top of that, the notice has to be in writing. Also, notices that are delivered orally aren't allowed. So, don't feel obliged to pay rent increases that are given through word of mouth. A written notification must include: 

  • Tenant's name
  • Rental address
  • Current rent price
  • Proposed new rent price/Increase amount
  • When the new rent price will take effect 
  • Date of when the new rent is due

However, for the purpose of providing a brief overview, here is a simplified list that illustrates the variance in requirements across a selection of states:

  • California: 30-day notice for increases under 10% of the current rent, 60-day notice for increases over 10%.
  • New York: At least 30-day notice.
  • Texas: For month-to-month tenancies, at least a month's notice is required. For longer leases, it depends on the terms agreed upon in the lease.
  • Florida: No specific state law but usually governed by what's written in the lease agreement.
  • Illinois: No specific state law but usually governed by what's written in the lease agreement.
  • Ohio: For month-to-month tenancies, at least a 30-day notice is required. For longer leases, it depends on the terms agreed upon in the lease.
  • Georgia: No specific state law but usually governed by what's written in the lease agreement.

What Can You Do if Your Landlord Has Illegally Increased Your Rent?

You can always start with the more civil route. Try talking to your landlord to get clarification on the matter. A friendly smile and calm attitude can have a surprisingly positive effect on people. 

If there's no reasoning with them, you should consider contacting a local housing authority or a lawyer in your state. They'll be able to tell you the appropriate course of action and what legal steps you can take.

Some people might decide to make a more passive choice. They’ll just ignore the rent increase. If you do this and your landlord threatens you with eviction, just be wary of the following details. Landlords are not allowed to remove a tenant unless they have a court order for eviction. They also can’t shut off your utilities, change your locks, or remove your belongings from your home. We do not recommend this route.

We would never recommend letting a situation escalate this far. Legal proceedings can hurt your rental background or your chances of renting in the future. We would advise that you become well aware of your rights and obligations.


Facing a rent increase can be stressful, but you're not powerless. Understanding your rights, your lease agreement, and local rent control laws can provide a way forward. No one should be left feeling trapped or helpless due to a rent increase. Be proactive, know your rights, and seek legal help if necessary.

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