Rent Increase Notice Letter

Last Updated: October 30, 2023 by Roberto Valenzuela

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A rent increase notice informs a tenant about an upcoming rise in the amount of rent. Landlords in most states can’t increase rent at will, so state or local laws often specify a certain amount of advance notice to the tenant before a rent increase takes effect.

Landlords often have to follow specific requirements in order to increase the rent. In addition to any legal restrictions on frequency, they generally must wait until the renewal of a rental term.

Increasing Rent During a Fixed-Term Lease

Landlords usually can’t increase rent during fixed-term leases, even when the tenant has agreed to provisions that allow it. For example, a one-year lease usually has the rental amount locked in until the end of that year, with any increase taking place upon lease renewal.

It’s sometimes possible for a fixed-term lease to have specific terms which allow a rent increase, but this is a legal risk. Courts often see a fixed and predictable rental price as one of the fundamental purposes of a fixed-term rental. Terms that allow a rent increase may be unenforceable and risk the validity of the entire lease.

Increasing Rent When Renewing a Fixed-Term Lease

Landlords usually can increase rent when a tenant is renewing a fixed-term lease. Most courts interpret a lease renewal as a new contract with similar terms to the old contract. This means a landlord can update the lease provisions from one fixed term to the next, and make the lease renewal dependent on the tenant agreeing to any new terms, including rent.

Increasing Rent When Renewing a Month-to-Month Lease

Landlords usually can increase rent from one month to another on a month-to-month lease. Most states require at least one full rental period of advance notice for month-to-month tenants, often specified as 30 days or more.

Suppose it’s in February, and the landlord wants to increase the rent on a month-to-month tenancy. In most states, the landlord would not be allowed to increase the rent for the March rental period. The earliest a rent increase could apply would be to the April rental period.

Illegal Rent Increases

These are some types of rent increase which are usually illegal:

  • During the Term of a Lease – Both fixed-term rentals and month-to-month tenancies can generally only have rent increased when they’re up for lease renewal
  • Not Following Correct Legal Process – Many state or local laws set out a specific process which must be followed to increase the rent, especially for rent-controlled properties
  • Unreasonable Amount – Some state and local laws cap rent increases by a certain percentage, but even states without specific laws may still find rent increases significantly above local market value to be unreasonable
  • Unlawful Purpose – Many states specifically forbid any rent increases done for the following reasons:
    • To pressure a tenant to move out
    • To retaliate against a tenant for:
      • Asking for repairs
      • Reporting a housing code violation or health and safety issues to a government official or agency
      • Participating in a tenant organization like a tenant union
      • Attempting to claim rights or remedies guaranteed by the law or the lease
    • As an act of discrimination against a tenant on the basis of race, religion, or sexual orientation

    How Much Can Landlords Increase Rent?

    In general, landlords can raise rent by any amount that’s within the range of local fair market value. If a specific law or lease provision applies to the rental situation, however, any rent increase will be limited by those applicable rules.

    Fair Market Value for Rent Increases

    The local market is the major influence on what’s fair to ask in terms of rent increases. Many areas have an average increase around 3-5 percent per year. Higher percentages increase the risk of legal challenge as well as negative tenant reactions.

    Courts usually determine fair market value for rent off of local rental rates, rather than looking at the landlord’s expenses. This gives landlords an incentive to calibrate their prices to the local market, beyond simply keeping the rental competitive.

    Price is the most powerful factor influencing demand for a rental. Inflated prices reduce the pool of potential renters and increase the odds of property that’s unoccupied for extended periods.

    Landlords often use the following two metrics to easily survey local prices:

    • Rent Comps – Actual rent data that give the amount of rent contracted by real tenants
    • Listings Comps – Properties which are listed but not rented, less accurate than rent data but giving a broader sense of local landlord expectations regarding rental prices
    Comparing prices is often only useful when comparing similar properties. Things like neighborhood, square footage, amenities, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms are important similarities for landlords to establish when surveying rental prices.

    Landlord Costs and Fair Market Value

    Although courts usually look at a range of local rentals to determine fair market value, documenting costs can often help prove an increase is reasonable. Even some presumptively unlawful rent increases can be excused if the landlord proves they are necessary to cover increased property taxes, insurance premiums, HOA fees, and maintenance costs.

    Rent Control

    Rent-controlled properties have additional rules as to how much and how often the rent can be increased. This is one of the areas where checking all applicable laws is most important. State by state rent control standards have wide variance, and many local areas have additional rules for rent-controlled property.

    How Much Notice Do Landlords Need To Give for a Rent Increase?

    The amount of notice a landlord has to give before a rent increase varies by jurisdiction. A few states, like Texas, have no advance notice requirement, and the landlord can simply announce an increase in rent at the start of a new rental period. Most states, however, require advance notice of a rent increase 30-90 days before the rental term in which it begins.

    State Notice Required for a Rent Increase
    Alaska 30 days (month-to-month tenants) or 14 days (week-to-week tenants)
    Arizona 30 days (month-to-month tenants) or 14 days (week-to-week tenants)
    Arkansas 1 month (month-to-month tenants) or 7 days (week-to-week tenants)
    California 30 days (less than 10% increase to the rent) or 90 days (more than 10% increase)
    Colorado 60 days
    Connecticut No statute
    Delaware 90 days (mobile homes) or 60 days (other housing types)
    Florida No statute
    Georgia 60 days
    Hawaii 45 days (month-to-month tenants) or 15 days (week-to-week tenants)
    Idaho 90 days (mobile homes) or 30 days (other housing types)
    Illinois No statute
    Indiana 30 days
    Iowa 30 days
    Kansas 60 days (mobile homes) or 30 days (other housing types)
    Kentucky No statute
    Louisiana No statute
    Maine 30 days (mobile homes) or 45 days (other housing types)
    Maryland 90 days (year lease), 60 days (month-to-month lease), 21 days (week-to-week oral lease), or 7 days (week-to-week written lease)
    Massachusetts 30 days
    Michigan No statute
    Minnesota 30 days (month-to-month tenants) or 60 days (mobile homes)
    Mississippi 30 days (month-to-month tenants) or 7 days (week-to-week tenants)
    Missouri 60 days (mobile homes) or no statutory requirement (other housing types)
    Montana 7 days (week-to-week tenants) or 30 days (month-to-month tenants)
    Nebraska 7 days (week-to-week tenants) or 30 days (month-to-month tenants)60 days (mobile home tenants)
    Nevada 60 days (month-to-month tenants) or 30 days (week-to-week tenants)
    New Hampshire 60 days (mobile homes) or 30 days (other housing types)
    New Jersey 30 days
    New Mexico 30 days (month-to-month tenants) or 7 days (week-to-week tenants)
    New York 30 days (tenancy shorter than 1 year), 60 days (tenancy between 1 to 2 years), or 90 days (tenancy longer than 2 years)
    North Carolina No statute
    North Dakota 90 days (month-to-month mobile home tenants) or 30 days (all other tenancies)
    Ohio No statute
    Oklahoma No statute
    Oregon 90 days (after first year of tenancy) or 7 days (week-to-week tenants)
    Pennsylvania No statute
    Rhode Island 60 days (month-to-month tenants over 62 years old) or 30 days (all other tenancies)
    South Carolina No statute
    South Dakota 30 days
    Tennessee No statute
    Texas No statute
    Utah 15 days
    Vermont 60 days
    Virginia 7 days (week-to-week tenants) or 30 days (month-to-month tenants) or 60 days (if lease contains renewal provision)
    Washington 60 days (unsubsidized housing) or 30 days (subsidized housing)
    Washington D.C. 30 days
    West Virginia No statute
    Wisconsin No statute
    Wyoming No statute
    Advance notice periods get counted from when the notice is received, not when sent. The landlord has the burden of proving when a tenant received a particular notice. Landlords often deliver notice of a rent increase through certified mail, to prove the exact date of delivery.

    Written and Verbal Notice

    Most jurisdictions require written notice for a rent increase. Verbal agreements can have legal force in rare cases, but when there’s an ambiguity courts interpret an agreement against the person who demanded a particular term.

    This makes verbally announced rent increases almost impossible to enforce if the tenant disputes them. Verbally announced rent increases usually only get enforced if the tenant has already paid rent at the new rate alleged by the landlord.

    How Often Can Landlords Increase the Rent?

    Most states don’t limit how often landlords can increase the rent.

    In most rental situations, the frequency of rent increases isn’t an issue. Most rentals are fixed-term for a term of one year. This restricts rent increases to once yearly in most cases, regardless of state law. A few states do, however, have statutes limiting the frequency of a rent increase:

    State Maximum Frequency of Rent Increases
    California Twice per year
    Colorado Once per year
    Delaware Once per year (mobile homes only)
    Idaho Once per 6 months (mobile homes only)
    Minnesota Twice per year (mobile homes only)
    New Jersey Limited by rent control in many cities
    New York Every 1-2 years, depending on lease term (once yearly, if rent controlled)
    North Dakota Rent in some cases cannot be increased within 6 months after the sale of a mobile home
    Oregon None during the first year of tenancy
    Washington D.C. Once per year

    How To Write a Rent Notice Increase

    Writing a rent notice increase usually involves informing the tenant of the new rental amount, the date it becomes effective, and any supporting information to help put the tenant more at ease about the increase. At minimum, a rent increase notice generally includes:

    • Tenant name(s)
    • Rental property’s address
    • Landlord name(s)
    • Landlord contact and address
    • Date of notice given
    • Effective date of rent increase
    • Current amount of rent
    • New amount of rent
    • Space for tenant response (accepting/rejecting the increase)
    • Space for signature/date

    Keeping Tenants Happy After a Rent Increase

    A rent increase can impact tenant happiness. These are some strategies landlords use to keep relations smooth when increasing rent:

    • Explain the Increase – a rent increase notice may contain a brief explanation of new administrative costs, to reassure tenants that the increase simply passes on a new homeowners’ association fee or property tax
    • Provide Other Examples of Area Rentals – this allows tenants to compare to other local options and see that the increase is reasonable, especially if the examples are of similar units
    • Specify Standards for Rent Increase in the Original Lease – this gives tenants a sense of transparency from the landlord, and lets them predict any rental changes in advance
    Many landlords give notice of a rent increase far in advance to get an idea of the tenant’s intentions. This allows a lot of time to plan a renewed agreement, or list and show the property if the tenant rejects the increase.

    Delivering a Rent Notice Increase

    A rent increase notice may be delivered by hand or by mail. Notice legally counts from when the landlord can prove the tenant received it. This means it’s customary to deliver mailed notice via certified mail, to prove date of delivery. Landlords may ask a tenant to sign a receipt of notice if it’s hand-delivered.

    Fixed-term leases often include a copy of the new lease with the rent increase notice, highlighting any changes (like the increase) made to the lease and asking for tenant review and signature if they agree.