As a landlord or property manager, sometimes you need to increase the amount of rent that you charge your tenants. According to a report from Apartment List, in 2021, overall U.S. median rent increased by 11.4%.
Naturally, tenants won't be happy about facing a rent increase, but handling these changes professionally and courteously can alleviate an uncomfortable experience when notifying your renter.
What Is a Rent Increase Notice?
The landlord or property manager provides a rent increase letter to notify a renter of the new rent. This notice should include the following information:
- Date of letter
- Name of tenant
- Name of landlord
- Current rental rate
- New rental rates
- Date the tenant needs to sign a new lease or arrange to vacate the premises
- Date the increase will take effect
A rent increase notice should be delivered directly to the tenant or sent via certified mail with a receipt requested. This process ensures that you will have proof the tenant received the notice on a particular date. The tenant should have at least 30 days to accept the change or reject it and move out.
Ways To Ensure a Positive Reception?
There are several tips to ensure that a rent increase letter is positively received. Begin by making it personal. Use the tenant's name in the greeting rather than just an impersonal "dear tenant." In addition, conclude the notice with a friendly closing.
In the body of the notice, refer to the rent increase as a "change" rather than an "increase." Thank them for being your tenant and encourage them to contact you with any questions or concerns. Include a name and phone number or email address for their convenience if they'd like to contact you.
And if there's a specific reason for the rent increase – such as increased property taxes or improvements made to the property, like a new paint job or newly added amenities – include those details in the notice. Highlighting specific reasons for the rent increase will help tenants understand why the change is necessary and prevent them from viewing it simply as greed.
When Can Rent Be Raised?
You can't raise a tenant's rent in the middle of a lease. Instead, you'll need to wait until the current lease expires. So if your tenant signed a one-year lease, you need to wait until after the year is over to raise their rent. Likewise, if your tenant signed a month-to-month lease, you need to wait until the end of the month to raise the rent. However, the rent cannot be increased until a new lease is signed. Tenants will also need adequate notice, often 30 days, before their leases expire.
How Much Can You Raise Rent?
Raising rent depends on where you are located in the U.S. Generally, there are no limits on how much you can raise your property's rent. However, if the property is rent-controlled, you need to understand your local laws governing this type of arrangement. You will be limited in how much you can increase the rent on a rent-controlled property.
Although you can usually raise the rent by as much as you'd like, be aware that a significant increase can cause you to lose tenants. Being too haste may result in lost rental income, losing reliable tenants, and causing a unit to sit vacantly. Therefore, it's best to keep rental increases reasonable and balance your monetary requirements with your need to keep tenants.
Tenants never welcome a rent increase notice, but a letter that's professional yet friendly, transparent, and polite will be better received than one that's strictly by the book.
The process of notifying a renter requires that you produce a notice that has all required information so that it satisfies local legal standards and your tenants have a clear understanding of their deadlines and responsibilities.
Managing a Rent Increase as a Long-Distance Landlord
If you're a long-distance landlord and need to increase rent, it can often come with a few challenges. For example, sometimes it's cumbersome to check up on your property and deal with changes when you're not onsite. However, that doesn't mean that being a long-distance landlord and needing to enforce a rent increase is impossible. Instead, it means that you need to prioritize organization and have a process to avoid any roadblocks.
Here are a few tips to make the rent increase process more manageable when you're further away:
- Establish communication channels
It helps tremendously if you keep in touch with your tenants regularly. Ask them how they prefer to communicate during the application process, such as online, email, text, or phone call. It's essential to ensure tenants can get ahold of you in an emergency and you know how to contact them.
- Start the conversation early
No one likes to be surprised about rent increases, so talk to tenants before things progress too far. Provide them information about how rent control works in your area if applicable.
- Automate your rent collection processes
If you don't set the payments up effectively, collecting rent in cash or checks from tenants in another city can become a headache. After reviewing an online rental application and receiving a thorough credit report, you can use a financial management service or have your tenants set up a wire transfer or secure online payment method.
- Plan ahead and don't let property maintenance slide
If you can avoid a rent increase, that's sometimes better for long-term passive revenue streams. However, occasionally significant property damage can tarnish those plans. Therefore, prioritizing consistent maintenance for rental property reduces bigger issues arising later. Maintenance and repairs remain the owners' responsibility, so make sure you keep on top of all the regular work such as property improvements and yard work. Owners need to be prepared to address these issues regardless of where they are located.
Being prepared is key
Managing as a long-distance landlord can work for you as long as you set up systems in advance. By working with a service provider like RentSpree to streamline your processes, you can access up to date, detailed information to find the best tenants and be able to feel confident in your selection whether you are near or far.