Landlord/tenant law varies from city to city, so the answer isn't clear-cut. Your rent is set in your lease, so your lease controls your landlord's ability to raise your rent. Leases will sometimes state that a landlord can only increase your rent a certain amount if you renew the lease. As a general rule, however, unless you live in a city with rent control laws, your landlord can do whatever they like with the rent at the end of your lease. If you have a month-to-month rental, your landlord usually has to give you notice of a rent increase, but they can still raise it after the notice.
Landlords Can't Raise Your Rent if
Landlords can't raise your rent in a discriminatory manner. Nor can they do so based on race, religion, or national origin. And, they can't discriminate against people with children in rent increases.
Further, in most states, your landlord cannot use a rent increase (or evict you, lock you out, or turn off your heat) in retaliation against you for exercising a specified legal right. For example, if you make a legitimate complaint to a housing agency about conditions in your rental unit, your landlord is forbidden to raise your rent in revenge. If you think your landlord has raised your rent for one of these prohibited reasons, you may be able to sue, depending on your city or state's laws. But, even if you do sue and sue successfully, you should probably be packing your bags. Your landlord will be unlikely to renew your lease when it comes up.
Check if Your Neighborhood is Rent Controlled
Rent control isn't common. Less than 200 municipalities have rent control, and they're all in New York, New Jersey, California, Maryland, or Washington, D.C.
31 states prohibit rent control statutes. In any event, rent control statutes establish by law the amount that a landlord can charge for a controlled unit and limit the amount of any given rent increase. Landlords can get into serious trouble for violating these laws. Many rent-control jurisdictions have steep civil and criminal penalties for failing to follow rent control requirements. Landlords can be subject to injunctions, sued for money damages and attorney's fees, and even go to jail in extreme cases.
Other Solutions If Your Landlord Raised Your Rent
You might be better off trying to negotiate with your landlord. If it's a time when there are more apartments than tenants (which does sometimes happen in some neighborhoods), you may have a good chance of winning your argument. On the other hand, if you've been a long-term, well-behaved tenant who always pays the rent on time and never bothers the neighbors, you might persuade your landlord that they'd be happier if you didn't move. That argument does often win because every new tenant is a gamble.
File a Small Claim Against Your Landlord
Write a Demand Letter
Sending a demand letter is an essential step of small claims court proceedings. It is also known as a notice of intent to sue, and it should be sent before filing in court. Many cases are resolved through strongly worded demand letters. It is advisable to send the letter on professional letterhead. If you use Dispute's services, we will either write the entire demand letter for you or help you write it yourself. Once you've decided what to include in your letter, simply click 'Send' at our website and we will print and mail your letter for you.
Fill out a Statement of Claim
After sending a demand letter, the next step is filling out a Statement of Claim. This is the official state small claims form. For this form, you should start with the following information:
- Reason for the lawsuit
- Claim amount ($)
- Name and address of the person/business that is being sued
Filing a Statement of Claim against a business can be tricky. If you are suing a business, you need to look up the certificate of doing business and make sure you fill out the form corresponding to the county where the defendant lives, works or does business. The forms can get tricky and mistakes prevent your case from filing. So doing research is essential. Experts at Dispute file paperwork daily, and a support team can help you find answers to your questions.
Depending on your state, county, and courthouse, you may need more information about the defendant. Some courthouses ask if the defendant was in the military. Or they may need more information from you. You may need to fill out additional paperwork like a summons.
Next, you’ll have to sign your paperwork. Sometimes, you may need to get your signature notarized. With Dispute, you can easily notarize your forms within the app.
Filing with Dispute makes this process easy. Our simple interface simplifies forms and makes them easy for you to fill out.
File Your Paperwork at the Courthouse
After filling out paperwork, you’ll need to file with the courthouse. The court clerk will review your paperwork. If it is approved, you can move forward with your case. But if not, you can make adjustments and refile. You may need to submit multiple copies to the court. Make sure you check with your courthouse to see what guidelines apply.
Different courthouses have different policies for filing. Some require fax filing, mail filing, or e-filing. They also can be particular about filing fees and methods of payment.
Let Dispute take care of these nuances for you. Just spend a few minutes answering questions in our app, and we’ll take care of the rest.
In the end, you cannot sue your landlord for raising your rent because of extraordinary circumstances like a violation of your lease or a rent control law. They own the property and, in virtually every state, can increase the rent as high as they like. You can pay it or move.
Think you still have a case against your landlord? Consider filing with Dispute. Our site makes the small claims filing process easy and affordable. Instead of managing the paperwork, court dates, and filing on top of your regular responsibilities, let our experts take care of it for you. All you have to do is check your user dashboard for updates on your case. Our tools make it easy to manage the details for any state and county. All you need to do is put together evidence and show up for your day in court.
Depending on your local rent regulations, landlords may be breaking the law when raising rent. It is also illegal to raise rent based on race, religion, discrimination, or national origin.