Wait a second — can my landlord raise my rent?

Don't panic

Graphic with pile of cash and house
(Image credit: Future)

There are a lot of things we love to “raise” in life. To raise a glass to a newlywed couple. To receive a raise in salary at work. Raise money for a charitable cause. Or raise the roof to your favorite music at a party. However, if there is one thing we hate to see raised, it’s our rent. 

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for rent to be raised over time, regardless of where you live. Over the last five years, rent has steadily been increasing across almost all U.S. states. You may be wondering how much you can actually afford.

With that being said, it is important to remember that each lease, each state, and each circumstance is unique. But the fact of the matter is your landlord can, and likely will, raise your rent at some point. While none of us enjoy dealing with a raise in rent, especially after finding the perfect apartment, so these tips will lift your spirits about the situation. 

 When can rent be raised? 

The good news is that your landlord cannot raise your rent whenever they want. Ideally, these terms are included in the lease agreement that you signed and the rental price must follow those lease terms. For example, if you signed a one-year lease, the rent cannot be raised until that one-year lease has expired. If your lease is only for six months, the same rules apply.  

 Where can rent be raised? 

As mentioned above, each state has different guidelines so it is important to read up on the trends in the city and state you are living in or considering living in. Some states are known for high rental costs and have a reputation for yearly increases. Other states are known for affordable housing costs with minimal raises. If you do some quick research you can see how your landlord might act based on their location. As they say in real estate, it is all about location. If you are tired of rising rent, consider relocating to a city or state that better fits your lifestyle — don’t be afraid of a little change!  

 Why is rent raised? 

This is the million-dollar question…why is rent so high? Why is it getting even higher? The simple answer is that landlords raise the rent because they can. Landlords benefit from a higher rental cost. Post-pandemic, we are seeing the difficulties of buying a home and landlords are reaping the benefits of rental properties. On the flip side, their personal cost of owning a rental property is going up as well. Inflation impacts us all, and rent is just one way we can feel impacted by it. The more costs incurred for the landlord, the more you’ll have to pay — unfortunately.  

 How high can your rent be raised? 

 Again, we wish this was a straightforward answer but each state, and even city, has different rights supporting both landlords and renters. Few cities have rent control — meaning there is a limit on how much rent can be raised. Unfortunately, that is the exception, not the rule. A simple online search can tell you if your city has rent control. 

On the bright side, your landlord will have to inform you of any raise in rent with advance notice. Anywhere from 30 to 90 days is standard practice for informing tenants of a raise. If the increase isn’t feasible for you, this time will allow you to find a space that’s more budget-friendly. 

 Rent is rising — What can I do next?  

Don’t be afraid to negotiate! When faced with a circumstance like this, it’s easy to feel depleted, frustrated, and just give in. Don’t give up so easily. You are a great tenant, right? List all the positive attributes you bring to the table in writing and present that to your landlord. If your landlord is suggesting a raise of $800, suggest a compromise of $500. You never know unless you ask. 

If the increase is inevitable, try to think of other ways you can cut costs around the house. If you have a two-bedroom living space consider a roommate. Remember, by adding another occupant to the house you are not only splitting the rental cost but also the expense of utilities and supplies. That can add up quickly and make a noticeable difference in your monthly bills.

If a shared situation is not for you, these tips can help you avoid a raise in rent:

Sure, the worst part about leasing a space is that you face the risk of your rent raising, but it’s actually quite common. You can choose to accept the increase or look for another place. Either way, you get to choose how it ends while your landlord does not. Remember to be realistic about the situation, and don’t be afraid to put in the work to find the right space.

Kara Thompson

About me: 

Kara Thompson is a Denver-based journalist with over five years of experience writing lifestyle content. She has written for a variety of publications, including townandcountrymag.com, elledecor.com, goodhousekeeping.com, and Parents, where she covered all things home, food, fashion, travel, and holidays. During her time on staff at Parents, Kara launched her own home decor and organization column named Save My Space. In 2022, she left her full-time job as an editor and started her own writing, editing, and social media firm, Kara Thompson and Co.

Tennis, New York City, bourbon cocktails, and her sister's German Shepherd are a few of her favorite things.