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When it comes time to renew a lease, landlords have an opportunity to increase your rent. This is great for them, but not so great for tenants like Laura.
Laura D asks:
My question is about rent increases. I have been at one property for four years now. Every year they raise the rent by $60 for per month for a 12 month lease and every year I talk to the property manager and we negotiate and come to terms for it to be $25 instead. Also they always do upgrades that I want, I have gotten a new water tank, new blinds, new kitchen countertops as well. This year when I called the same property manager told me that they will not negotiate with me and that if I want any upgrades the head of maintenance will have to come out to determine if my requests are for damaged items. I did remind her that I have never paid my rent late and that I never complain about noise or problems as well. She told me that did not matter. My question is should I write to the corporate and see if they can do anything or should I just grin and bear it for another year? Thank you.
Paying Your Rent on Time Just Makes You a Tenant
It sounds like your landlord is actually pretty good. While often frustrating, it’s normal to receive a rent increase on a yearly basis. If your landlord were bad in other ways you might have some ground to negotiate on, but paying your rent on time and not complaining about noise doesn’t make you a great tenant—it just makes you a tenant. You’re supposed to pay your rent on time, and you don’t deserve any special consideration for it. It’s what you agreed to do in the lease. Furthermore, from what you’ve written, it sounds like your landlord has gone above and beyond with fixing and upgrading the things you’ve requested. It sounds like you’re in a pretty good situation and that, if anything, you’re asking for too much—not them.
Check Your Tenant Rights Handbook for Rent Increase Laws
That said, I don’t know what a $60 increase means in comparison to your total rent costs. For me, because the location and size of my apartment, a $60 increase would be an inconsequential increase. I also do not live alone and do not pay the full rent myself, so that increase would be shared with my roommate. If you live alone and somewhere where rent is cheaper than Los Angeles, that $60 may make a greater impact on your finances. If that’s the case, and it comes out to a significant percentage (e.g. 10% or higher), you should take a look at the tenant rights handbook in your area.
You can find this easily through a quick web search for the name of your city and the words “tenant rights handbook.” These guides generally include information on rent increase caps. For example, I used to live in Pasadena and rent increases over 9.9% weren’t allowed without a 60 day notice. I was able to negotiate a smaller increase because inadequate notice was given. In some areas of LA County, rent increases are capped at 3% per year or are not allowed at all. It varies highly depending on where you live, so definitely look into this and make sure they are not raising the rent more than they are allowed. It seems unlikely from what you’re telling me, but it’s worth a look.
If You Want to Move, Ask for a Month-to-Month Lease
It does sound like you’re being treated very fairly, though, so I don’t think you’re in a place to complain to your landlord. There’s nothing wrong with negotiating, but if they’re putting their foot down here I think you should be okay with it. You’ve gotten a lot from them so far and it seems like you’re in a fair situation. If you’d rather move, you can tell them you’re going to do that but would like time past your lease and ask to pay month-to-month for however many months you need to move. They may be more amenable in this case because it gives them more time to rent the unit and they still get their increase during your transition.
Best of luck!
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