If you have a written lease that has not expired, your landlord is not allowed to raise the rent unless the lease says so.
If you don’t have a written lease, your landlord can raise the rent at any time. For example, if you are a month-to-month tenant, the landlord can ask you to pay more rent the following month without giving you advance notice.
Note: Whether you have a written lease or not, your landlord is not allowed to raise your rent (or take away services such as utilities) if in the last 6 months, you
- asked your landlord to make repairs in your apartment;
- complained to the health department, housing code office, or the Fair Rent Commission;
- filed court papers because your landlord isn’t making necessary repairs in your apartment; or
- joined a tenants’ union.
Even if your apartment needs repairs, you must pay your rent on time or your landlord can evict you. For more information about what to do if your apartment needs repairs, see the legal aid booklet: Tenants’ Rights: Repairs.
What if I am a senior or I have a disability?
If you are a senior or you have a physical disability and you live in a building with 5 or more units or you live in a mobile home, your landlord must not raise the rent unless the amount is reasonable.
If the rent increase does not seem reasonable to you, you can
- file a complaint with your local Fair Rent Commission,
- sue your landlord to stop the rent increase, or
- talk to a lawyer.
Can I be evicted for not paying the rent increase?
If you and the landlord can’t agree on the rent increase, you will have to move. If you don’t move, your landlord can start an eviction against you.
Can I do anything about a rent increase?
Yes. You can ask the landlord to keep your rent the same or make it a smaller increase.
If the landlord agrees, put your agreement in writing. This will be your new written lease.
If the landlord does not agree, send the landlord a letter saying you don’t agree to the new amount. Continue paying the old rent, or pay an increase that you think is reasonable. Always pay on time and pay by check or money order. Write “Rent in full for the month of ___” on your check or money order.
Then, contact the Fair Rent Commission. They can look at your situation and decide if your rent or rent increase is too high or unfair.
You can file a complaint with the Fair Rent Commission if
- the rent increase seems too high;
- your rent seems unfair because your apartment is unsafe, has unhealthy conditions, or violates the housing code;
- you complained about the conditions in your apartment and the landlord raised the rent in response to your complaint; or
- your landlord wants you to pay for utilities that used to be included in your rent.
To file a claim with the Fair Rent Commission about a rent increase, you must have lived in your apartment for at least 3 months. You do not need a lawyer or a written lease to file a complaint.