It’s no secret that rents have been reaching crazy levels. So, this can leave you wondering: how much can my landlord raise my rent? Are there any laws that can protect tenants against rent increases?
The good news is that there are laws that limit rent increases in certain jurisdictions. They are commonly referred to as “rent control” or “rent stabilization” laws. Of course, these laws are not uniform, so the application and limits imposed by them will depend on where you live.
The bad news (potentially) is that you might live in a location that doesn’t have these type of laws.
What We’ll Cover
In this article, I am going to discuss how much your landlord can raise your rent, including some of the key factors involved in answering that question.
I will also talk about how much rents have increased over the years (including hard data) and show which states have increased rents the most (and least), so you’ll at least have a general sense of what a normal rent increase looks like.
Finally, I will talk about rent control laws (what they are and what they do) and discuss details around these laws in some key states and localities.
If you are in a rush, the short answer to the question of how much your landlord can increase your rent is as follows:
Your landlord may increase rent without limitation if your rental is not protected by rent control laws. However, increases can’t happen during the middle of your lease nor can they happen retroactively. They typically occur at the end of your lease and are usually constrained by market forces.
Ok, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get into it.
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
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When Can My Landlord Raise My Rent?
As mentioned above, landlords may raise your rent at the end of your lease term unless they are prohibited from doing so due to rent control laws.
Of course, your landlord is still bound by market forces and if they raise rents above prevailing levels for their type of property, no one is going to want to rent from them and they will lose money because the property will sit vacant.
Ok, so let’s assume that your property is not subject to rent control laws – are there limits on when they can increase rents? The answer is yes. Here are some of the common limitations on timing of rent increases:
- Your landlord cannot hike your rent in the middle of your lease without your consent.
- Your landlord will typically provide written notice in advance of a proposed rent increase that is allowed (usually at the end of your lease term).
- Your landlord cannot hike rent retroactively.
- Your landlord cannot increase your rent in an effort to punish you for reporting housing violations, etc.
The key thing to understand is that your lease is the governing document for your rental arrangement, so it’s important to read the fine print whenever you’re signing a contract.
The longer the lease, the more assurance you have that rent will not be increased during that time (unless the lease specifically allows rent increases during the term). It’s why a lot of tenants try to negotiate longer terms if they plan on staying at the rental for an extended period of time.
If you are faced with a rental increase at the end of your term, don’t despair. They may be willing to negotiate with you on a smaller increase, especially if you have been a good tenant and the rental market is weak.
How Much Can My Landlord Increase My Rent?
As discussed, this will turn on whether you reside in a rent-controlled jurisdiction. Some states and localities prohibit any increase, while others may limit increases to a certain amount.
You should investigate your state and local laws to see exactly what types of rent increases are permitted.
For your convenience, here’s our 50 state reference table (including D.C.) that will link you to the official landlord tenant laws of your state.
Even if rent control does not apply, in some leases, a landlord and tenant will agree on a set increase at the end of the initial term of the lease. So you should definitely check your lease to see if such language exists.
In the absence of anything in your lease addressing rent increases, you can expect increases that will bring the rent to market rates. Based on a study from Credit Karma, rents have increased on average across the nation from 2017 to 2022 at a clip of 5.77% per year. Source.
This is an average and real estate is local, so you can expect variation based on your specific location. But here’s some helpful data on which states have the biggest and smallest rent increases.
The states with the highest average increase from 2021 to 2022 were as follows:
- South Dakota
- New York
- North Carolina
The states with the lowest average increase in rent from 2021 to 2022 were as follows:
- North Dakota
What Is Rent Control?
Ok – we’ve talked a lot about rent control, but we haven’t really discussed what exactly it is.
Rent control is a set of government ordinances that limit how much your landlord can increase or price rent. Here is a link to an article showing which states have rent control in effect.
These rent limits largely depend on where you live, even within regions or cities. They are notoriously hard to find and get into, so if you are among the lucky few who live in a rent controlled apartment, count yourself blessed.
What Is Rent Control Like in the Different States?
Some of the locations with some form of rent control in place are California, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Maryland, and Minnesota.
Oregon became one of the first and only states to apply a statewide rent control regulation, along with California.
For California, there is the ZIMAS or Zone Information and Map Access System, which can easily tell you if your address or property has an RSO or Rent Stabilization Ordinance.
In certain regions or cities, such as San Francisco, a rent-controlled unit is dependent on the age of the building. All buildings built before June 1979 are subject to rent control (unless it’s been converted to condos, which is a loophole some landlords use).
Meanwhile, AB 1482, or the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019, will further protect your rights as a tenant until January 1, 2030. This is the primary law that caps rent increases in California (more on that below).
Other protections include your landlord providing “just cause” before they can terminate your lease or turn you away. A great part of this act is you can’t waive your rights regarding rent control away.
What’s the Cap on Rent Increases in California?
The main appeal of the Tenant Protection Act is that your landlord can’t increase annual rent to any more than 5% + local CPI or 10%, whichever is lower. Additionally (and subject to the rent cap), rent may be raised only twice over any 12 month period.
That said, AB 1482 does not cover some properties, including:
- Single-family homes and condo units not corporate-owned
- Mobile Homes
- Duplexes (if the owner resides in the other unit)
- Buildings built within the last 15 years
- Rental properties where pre-existing local regulations apply
New York City has the longest-running rent regulations in the country. The New York-specific laws were first applied in 1943 to combat wartime inflation.
Nowadays, “rent stabilization” and “rent control” mean separate things in New York.
Rent stabilization makes up for about 40% of rental units, and these units are mostly those built in 1974.
For the past few years, rent-stabilized units have experienced up to 4.5% rent increases.
Rent control is a much older program that’s currently being phased out; only about 1% of units fall under this program. This is because tenants must have been continuously living in the unit since 1971 for it to be considered rent-controlled.
To find out if your apartment falls under rent ordinances, you must contact the NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR).
In New York State, if you are not in a rent controlled area, your landlord can raise rent without limitation, but they are required to provide advanced notice if they intend to raise it by more than 5%. How much notice will depend on how long you have lived in the dwelling (or the term of the your lease). Source.
There are many states like Texas which do not have rent control.
In such cases, cities are only allowed to control rent during specific circumstances, such as the governor announcing a state of disaster. Otherwise, your landlord is free to raise rent however much they want after your lease duration.
So there you have it – an answer to how much your landlord can increase your rent, with a robust analysis of factors that go into that analysis. Hope this has been helpful and happy renting!