Can Your Landlord Raise the Rent More Than Once Per Year? Here’s What Experts Say

published Sep 28, 2022
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No matter where you live, there’s a solid chance your rent has risen in the past few years. Rent prices increased in 79 of the largest 100 U.S. cities during the month of August, according to Apartment List’s most recent national rent report. And so far in 2022, rents are up 7.2 percent — but year-over-year growth has slowed to 10 percent, down from 18 percent at the beginning of the year. 

Still, you’ve probably come to expect that by the time your lease renewal notice comes around, you’ll receive a rent increase should you choose to renew. But given that rental vacancies are lower than usual (this could be because high interest rates are sidelining would-be buyers) and the rental market is hot, could your landlord pounce on this opportunity to raise your rent multiple times in one year? 

The answer is a resounding “probably not.” But really you need to look to your lease agreement for the most definitive answer.

If your lease provides for a mid-year increase, then yes, your landlord can increase the rent, explains Steven M. Katz, Esq., an attorney in Columbus, Ohio with Katz, Pryor & DiCuccio LLP, who specializes in contract law and landlord-tenant law. But if your lease is silent on this topic, then no, your landlord can’t unilaterally raise your rent. 

“For the landlord to raise rent in the middle of a lease, that would constitute a modification of the contract,” Katz says. “To modify a contract there must be consideration given by both parties. For example, if the tenant is behind on rent, the landlord may offer to forgo an eviction in exchange for a raise in rent moving forward.”

Despite these binding contracts, it’s not unheard of for some landlords to try to raise rent on unsuspecting tenants. And the protections that are in place could vary by state laws and city ordinances. For this reason, Katz recommends that renters be familiar with tenant rights, laws, and protections in their home state. 

If you think there’s been a breach in contract, you can start by contacting your local tenants’ rights organization, which should be well-versed on the local laws in your area, says Leonard Ang, the CEO of iProperty Management, an online resource guide for landlords, tenants, and real estate investors.

One more thing: If you go to renew your lease and you’re presented with a rent increase, you may have some negotiation power — especially if you’re a good renter with a strong on-time payment track record. 

“Rent is always negotiable, and smart renters know to ask for what they want, especially with a new lease or a renewal,” says Jonas Bordo, the CEO & cofounder of Dwellsy, a home rental platform. “Maybe a deal is possible… higher rent in return for new appliances or an extra parking space, for example, might be a deal that would benefit both you and your landlord.”