Getting a notice that your landlord is raising your rent is never welcome news. As of 2022, Redfin (redfin.com) reports that rentals in many metropolitan areas are seeing price increases of as much as 40 percent. That type of increase can be very hard for any tenant to deal with, regardless of your income. Another service, (Rent.com) reports increases of around mid 20%.
Of course, both of those depend on the city you live in, type of housing leased, and other factors. Regardless rental hikes that high can literally put people out of their homes. Not only that, but the cost of food, gasoline, and many other items you may use each and every day are also increasing.
If you’ve received notice that your rent is going up, don’t despair yet and find some ideas below. Experts say there may be room for negotiation if you play your cards right. Or find other resources, including financial assistance programs, income based housing, and more.
Keep the Rent Increase in Perspective
Is the rent increase justified? Women Who Money (womenwhomoney.com) recommends taking a moment to cool down before looking objectively at the increase. When you first signed your lease, were you given an incentive like one month free or discounted rent? Are other rentals in your area priced comparatively? If you always thought your rental price was a steal, it could be that your landlord is simply charging you what the property is really worth.
Check Your Local Laws for Rent Increase Regulations
Check the laws regarding landlords and tenants in your area. Websites like the National Multifamily Housing Council (nmhc.org) and NOLO (nolo.com) provide the laws by state and jurisdiction. At the time this article is being written, over 30 states don’t enact rent control, says the National Apartment Association (naahq.org), which means landlords in these states are free to charge what they wish. However, other states do set a cap on what landlords can charge. Additionally, many jurisdictions have requirements about how much notice a landlord has to give a tenant about an increase.
If you are not sure what the laws may or may not be, and are a low income family, there are free legal clinics and volunteer attorneys that can offer advice. The elderly as well as low income can get free legal consultations from a lawyer.
Talk – Negotiate
Property owners, whether a small landlord or huge corporation, are in the business of making money. Trying to get a new tenant is nearly always more costly than keeping a current tenant. If you’re a good tenant, pay your rent on time, keep your place clean and follow property rules, it’s likely your landlord would rather keep you than lose you.
Talk to your landlord. See if there is room for negotiation. Tell them why the increase will be a struggle for you and offer a solution you know you can meet, such as a partial increase. If you and the landlord reach an agreement, make sure this is done in writing, says Kiplinger (kiplinger.com).
Examine Payment Options
Your landlord might be open to lessening the rental increase if you agree to extend your lease beyond the typical one year, suggests the New York Times (nytimes.com). Are you expecting a raise at work? You might be able to persuade your landlord to postpone the rental increase until your raise goes into effect. You may also be able to work out a deal if you can pay several months’ worth of rent in advance.
Negotiate Other Aspects of Your Housing
Money isn’t the only thing that matters to your landlord. Do you live in a community that allows pets but you don’t own one? Emphasize this. It means your landlord will have a lot less to do when you leave. Are you allowed two parking spaces but only have one vehicle? Offer the other back to the community. Kiplinger also points out that summer tends to be the busiest season for property owners, while winter represents a lull. Offer to modify your lease so that it ends during the summer. Be as flexible as you can be.
Look Into Rental Assistance or More Affordable Housing
Low-income families can only do so much. If trying all of the steps below, if at the end of the day you can’t afford to live in the home/apartment, then there may be financial assistance programs or other resources.
Families with a job can look into Section 8 HUD vouchers, though these are hard to get and often have a waiting list. The federal government program will require you to pay about 30% of your income for your monthly rent and the voucher pays the balance. Locate section 8 houses near you.
There are other options as well. These will also be for low income families, the elderly, disabled and others who lived on a fixed income. As 20% year over year increases is even more challenging for those with a “fixed” income.
- One time rent help from charities or non-profits, but this limited and also for a crisis. Find more on how to get help paying the rent.
- Shared or supportive housing.
- Charitable housing programs may also be more affordable, however these tend to be for the disabled and/or seniors.
In addition, case workers can also advise tenants who are facing a large rent increase. They can be social workers, from charities, or even a HUD office. More on programs to help get an apartment.
Sometimes negotiating works; sometimes it doesn’t. Remember to remain polite and respectful. Give yourself plenty of time to try to work out an arrangement. Attempting a negotiation with mere days left before the increase or the end of your lease puts you at a disadvantage, one your landlord will recognize. Don’t agree to a payment you can’t afford. If moving is the only option, do so with grace. Despite the circumstances, it’s always best to have good rental references in your history.