Tenants stunned by soaring rents
Soaring home prices may get all the attention right now, but rent is rising to unheard-of levels this year for many people who don’t own homes.
Nurses’ aide Diamond Trimble just received a letter from her landlord informing her that her rent is about to go up from $650 to $1,035 - more than 30% - in April.
“I got the letter Feb. 23. So they basically gave me 30 days,” she said. “It’s going to hurt me tremendously.”
But Trimble says her apartment is in terrible condition, with broken window treatments, a moldy bathroom ceiling, and an oven that hasn’t worked in months.
“Nope, doesn’t turn on,” she said.
Her landlord has promised some renovations, but Trimble says she wants to see them first before agreeing to pay more.
“I can’t afford $1,000. If I could, I wouldn’t stay here,” she said.
What you can do if your landlord wants more
Cases like Trimble’s are happening across the country, as landlords who haven’t raised rent for two years during the pandemic now try to recoup their losses. That can mean rent hikes of 10%, 20%, even 40% as leases expire.
Attorney Nick DiNardo of the nonprofit advocacy group Legal Aid says while some cities have rent control, prohibiting rent hikes of over 5% or 10%, most communities do not.
“When that lease is over, or if the tenant is on a month-to-month lease, then the landlord only has to give 30 days notice before increasing the rent,” DiNardo said.
He added that some cities require a 60-day notice before raising rent.
Legal Aid suggests that those facing rent hikes should:
- Explain to the landlord why they can’t afford the rent hike and ask for a slightly lower increase.
- Explain that they are a good tenant and that it would be worthwhile for the landlord to keep them around.
- Offer to do work around the complex to keep the rent down.
- For those who need to leave, Legal Aid suggests asking for a few extra months to find a new place.
“All they can really do at that point is negotiate, they have no legal remedy,” DiNardo said.
When contacted by reporters, Diamond Trimble’s landlord said she plans to rehab the apartment and has the full legal right to raise the rent to do so.
Trimble says she’s probably going to have to move.
“There’s nothing I can do or say. Basically, either pay or leave,” she said.
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