Tenant’s Rights Regarding Rent Increases

You have a number of rights that stop landlords from being able to raise your rent unexpectedly during the term of your lease. However, these rights depend on what type of tenancy you have.


Rent Increases in Tenancies with a Lease

Tenant’s Rights Regarding Rent IncreasesUnless there is a tax escalator clause or a fuel escalator clause in your lease, the landlord cannot raise your rent during the term of the lease. A tax escalator clause allows your landlord to pass on to you any increase in his/her property taxes.

A tax escalator clause is a statement in your lease that says that you are obligated to pay only the portion of taxes assessed to your apartment (the exact percentage of any such increase); and that if your landlord receives a tax abatement, you will also receive a proportionate share of the abatement (less attorney’s fees). If the escalator clause does not include all these items, the clause is illegal, and you are not responsible for paying any tax increases. A fuel escalator clause allows your landlord to pass significant increases in fuel costs on to you if the landlord is responsible for paying the cost of heating your apartment or hot water.

Rent Increases in Tenancies-at-Will

In order to raise your rent, the landlord must give you proper legal notice. The landlord will terminate your tenancy at the lower rent amount and offer you a new tenancy at the increased rent amount. You must receive this notice at least one full rental period, but not less than 30 days, before it becomes effective.

Tenant’s Rights Regarding Rent IncreasesIf you pay the “new” rent, you are signifying that you have accepted the increase. If you choose not to pay the rent increase, you may do so and continue to pay your “old” rent. The landlord may then decide to proceed with the eviction because of your action, but the eviction process can be a lengthy one, thus allowing you time to find more reasonably priced accommodations. Your landlord can raise your rent as often and as much as s/he wishes, providing s/he sends you proper notice each time the rent is increased.

If you do not know which type of tenancy best describes you, visit our Types of Tenancy page for definitions, or call the Housing Consumer Education Center at 413-233-1700.

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