Although a landlord who dramatically increases rent might sound like an isolated case, unfortunately, this is something that happens all too often. However, is it legal in many scenarios. As a tenant, it is essential to know your rights, not only in this situation but others. That way if something does arise, you know how best to protect yourself. Of course, you can always contact an attorney who specializes in this area of the law for guidance or legal action.
Although tenants face various problems, an unaffordable or unfair rent hike is something that happens frequently. Although your landlord legally can raise the amount you pay each month, it must fall within the boundaries of the law. As an example, your landlord cannot increase your rent, even by a small amount, unless you agree to it.
Following are some of the other scenarios in which the law does not allow a rent increase, regardless of the amount.
- Retaliation – Under no circumstances can your landlord increase your rent as a way of retaliating against you for filing a complaint with a government entity regarding discrimination, successfully winning an eviction case, or reporting property violations. If you think this is what your landlord is doing, you have the right to refuse to pay. While your landlord might get nasty or try to evict you, in response, your attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf.
- Tenant Lease – If you have a standard written lease, your landlord cannot increase your rent for the contract duration. The only exception is if your contract has a “tax escalator clause.” With that, your landlord could hike up the price of your rent only if the local property taxes increase. Without a written lease, your landlord might propose raising your rent. However, depending on the circumstance, that might not be legal. Therefore, consult with an attorney if that happens.
- Apartment Conversion – If your landlord notified you that your apartment is getting converted into a condominium, there is a cap as to the amount of the rent increase. Sometimes, property owners get sneaky. As part of their plan to convert apartments into condominiums, they will clear the building by dramatically hiking the amount of rent. However, they fail to notify the tenants of the plan, which is illegal.
What it comes down to is that your landlord cannot impose a rent increase without following current laws. Most importantly, without you agreeing to it, there is no way that your landlord can force you to pay more each month. Also, with a current lease, you have protection throughout its duration, meaning your landlord cannot raise your rent, even by $1.
Remember, you should consult with an attorney right away if your landlord starts pressuring you to accept a proposed rent hike. If your landlord threatens you, also call your local law enforcement to file a report. That way, you have documented proof that could help at some point down the road when filing a lawsuit against your landlord or anyone in his or her employment.