Generally speaking, leases are contracts between tenants and landlords. The lease sets a monthly rental amount for a set term - say, twelve months - and during that time your landlord can't change any of the lease terms. That means they can't increase your rent during an existing lease.
That's where the good news ends. In most places, unless there are rent control protections in place, laws do not limit the amount that your landlord can increase the rent in between leases. Sometimes there will be a state law requiring that they give you a certain amount of notice, but they can increase by however much they want unless there are rent regulations in place.
How much does rent usually go up?
In more competitive rental markets, landlords can often increase rent dramatically because units are constantly in demand. In 2017, the average cost of rent in the United States increased by 3.1% with rent going up by as much as 8% in cities like Tacoma, Washington and Los Angeles. Landlords are within their rights to do this.
When can your rent go up?
While your rent can only be increased when your lease is up for renewal if you have a fixed term lease, if you're renting month to month then it's a different story. Your rent can be increased whenever your landlord wants as long as they give you notice.
Fixed lease: The only way rent can go up during a fixed term lease is if the lease has a written provision for a rent increase while the lease is in effect - another reason to thoroughly read your lease before signing it, or if you give your landlord consent to alter the lease.
Month to month leases: These are great because they give you so much flexibility, but one big downside is that you’re more vulnerable to rent increases. Usually the landlord can alter any term of your rental agreement - including the amount of rent due - at any time, as long as they give you the right amount of notice according to state or local law (keep reading!).
Notice periods for rent increases
The amount of notice and how it must be delivered varies state by state. In California they have to give you thirty days notice if the increase is more than 10%. In other states the minimum notice period is always thirty days - and that holds true for both month to month leases and long-term leases that are ending.
Did you find this to be helpful?
Can’t find your question?
Have a specific question that's not answered in one of our Learn articles? Submit it here and we might be able to create a new article.