Landlord raising my rent while still in a lease. Legal?
June 7, 2011 9:07 PM   Subscribe

Can my landlord legally raise my rent while I'm still in a lease?

I got a letter the other day from my landlord stating that "due to rising expenses" he would be raising the rent for all of his tenants, beginning in July. I signed a 1 year lease which is up in September. Is this legal? I live in Idaho.
posted by ryaninoakland to Law & Government (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What does the lease say?
posted by ericost at 9:09 PM on June 7, 2011

Read your lease. I've had leases that had provisions for raising the rent mid-lease under certain circumstances. However, they were pretty dire economic circumstances -- like super high inflation. It was never triggered and I don't know about the enforceability of such a provision.

Depending on the terms of the lease, you may wish to contact your city/county/state government body that regulates such matters. You may also have local tenant services available to you that can get you some sort of legal help to review your case.
posted by birdherder at 9:14 PM on June 7, 2011

You live in Oakland, right? Then see here.

California civil law is quite protective of tenant rights. You can contact the city council person in charge of tenant affairs and get the most current answer. I live in Berkeley and my city councilman's office has been super helpful. Two things my landlord tried to do were illegal. When I pointed those out to her, she was taken aback and immediately canceled those changes.
posted by babby╩╝); Drop table users; -- at 9:17 PM on June 7, 2011

damn, sorry, didn't realize this was in Idaho (went by your username/profile). Regardless, try searching for rent control council and see if any information pops up. Contact said office for what might be legal/illegal in your area.
posted by babby╩╝); Drop table users; -- at 9:19 PM on June 7, 2011

I'm familiar with California Law, not Idaho, but I'm confused about why you would best answer the comment that told you to read your lease.

In many jurisdictions, state and local law trump the lease.

Research what is legal for where you live. It's possible this sort of action is illegal, or only legal by stating the increases in expenses, etc. and filing with a governing body for authorization.

In other words, it's probably illegal. Research your rights, first.
posted by jbenben at 10:07 PM on June 7, 2011 [5 favorites]

Generally the whole idea behind a lease is that the rent is set. Of course if you refuse the increase, you may not see your lease extended (or you may, because a tenant is better than a vacancy).
posted by effugas at 11:37 PM on June 7, 2011

No, your landlord cannot raise your rent while your lease is in effect, unless you agree to it. Read here, under Rent Increases.
posted by MissySedai at 11:37 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

What others have said. Your landlord can write a lease to say whatever the hell they want, but that doesn't make it legal or even enforceable. Contact your local city (hopefully they have it listed on a website) and ask who you can talk to about landlord/tenant services, and state that you are a tenant. They will be able to tell you what is and is nto allowed according to your local laws and policies.

Outside of that, from what I've gathered living in different states there are some general rules that seem to apply all over (as in the laws seems to be the same from place to place) 1) they can't raise your rent in the middle of a lease, period. 2) after the lease is up they can only raise the rent a certain percentage to protect the tenant(s) from being chased out.
posted by zombieApoc at 7:28 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Part 2 of your statement is definitely a regional thing. In NYC you only get that protection if you're in a rent stabilized apartment. Most apartments could double your rent if they felt like it, from one lease term to the next.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:37 AM on June 8, 2011

Unfortunately, as an Idaho resident myself, I do know that our laws tend to favor landlords and property owners. But like others have said look over your lease. If there is a provision in in it regarding the right to raise your rent due to expense increase etc. then you probably don't have a case since you signed the document. If not, then as pointed out above, under Idaho code then he has to leave your rent where it is...

"If a rental agreement, whether written or oral, specifies the amount of the rent for a set time, the rent cannot be increased during the time specified, without the mutual agreement of the parties."
posted by wyldeboi at 9:54 AM on June 8, 2011

And ask yourself is the current rent considerably less than those on other apartments nearby? As in, the landlord was horrendously naive at setting the rate? Not that this would change the legality of the increase (I suspect it's not legal).

But if it's a great place and the landlord's be great (and I mean *really* great) then it might be reasonable to consider the request, or perhaps bargain on it a bit. It wouldn't do you a lot of good for the landlord to run into serious financial issues with the place, especially if things are really handled well.

But if the landlord's been renting the place for a while (long enough to understand setting appropriate rates) and there are issues, then I'd feel no problem with refusing to accept the increase during this lease. Just because the landlord wants more money doesn't mean you have to go along with it. After all you're not getting anything more out of the situation. Just be prepared for the increase to definitely appear for the next lease term.
posted by wkearney99 at 12:54 PM on June 8, 2011

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