Can a Landlord Change the Rent During a Lease? [Answered with Tips on What to Do]

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, the rent is perhaps one of the most important negotiated aspects of your rental arrangement.

So if a landlord intends to increase the rent after negotiations have passed and both parties have signed a binding lease agreement, it naturally begs the question of whether they are allowed to do so.

In this article, I am going to answer whether this type of change is permitted. I will also cover background information on lease agreements in general, their binding effect on both parties, and situations where a landlord may increase the rent in the middle of the lease term.

If you have don’t have the time to read through it all, here’s a short answer to the question:

As a general matter, a landlord may not change the rent during the middle of a lease unless the tenant agrees or there is a significant change to the rental relationship that warrants the change.

Ok – let’s get started.

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only.  It is not legal advice.  You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.

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Brief Introduction to Leases

A lease agreement, which sets forth the terms and conditions of the tenancy, is a binding agreement between a landlord and a tenant. That means it is equally binding on the landlord as it is the tenant.

The rent, of course, will be clearly spelled out in the lease and that rent will apply during the entire duration of the lease unless it says otherwise. In some cases, leases will have automatic rent escalators that may apply when certain dates are reached.

If a landlord attempts to modify the terms of the lease by raising the rent without your agreement, that increase is not valid (except in extraordinary circumstances, which we’ll cover later).

How long is the lease term? You will need to check your lease, but many typically run for a year or two. So you should generally not expect a rent increase for at least that period of that time.

Month to Month Leases

Month to month leases are agreements for tenancy where either party can exit the lease once the rolling monthly lease term runs out.

In this case, the landlord can ask for a rent increase, which the tenant can refuse, but if they do, the landlord may terminate the month to month tenancy at their discretion.

What If I Don’t Have a Written Lease in Place?

In this case, you will need to look at your state and local laws. Many will treat a tenant who has no lease as operating on a month to month basis.

So in that case, the same analysis would apply as we discussed above.

When Can A Landlord Adjust the Rent Mid-Lease?

As mentioned earlier, there may be a few instances where a landlord has the right to change the rent in the middle of a lease term.

Now there may be a variety of reasons why a landlord would want to do this (frankly, trying to grab a bit more money is likely top of the list). But other less nefarious reasons include keeping pace with inflation, try to offset the costs of significant repairs or improvements, or adjusting to shifting marketplace conditions.

Regardless of the reasons, they must still have a legal basis for actually changing the rent mid-lease.

The most likely reason why a landlord would ask to change the rent in the middle of a lease is due to a significant change in the rental arrangement. A common example is when a tenant wants to bring in a pet. That would meaningfully increase the risk and expenses for a landlord, so they will often want to increase the rent in exchange for allowing the pet in the premises.

In this case, a formal amendment to the lease should be done to memorialize the changed arrangement.

Similarly, a tenant may want to use the premises for Airbnb or other purposes that are not currently allowed under the lease and may ask for permission to do so. The landlord would then be fully justified in asking for an increase in rent in exchange for this right to use the rental for this purpose. After all, running an Airbnb can significantly add to the wear and tear that the rental will go through.

They may even negotiate some sort of profit sharing split with the tenant.

Rent Control

Another area to consider is rent control. There are a number of states and localities that have implemented rent control provisions. These will limit or outright ban any increases in rent for qualified housing.

If you live in an area that is subject to rent control, then you have even greater protections against landlord rental increases than your lease provides.

Plus, your landlord can get in trouble with the housing authorities if they insist on increasing rent in violation of these laws.

To find out if your area is subject to these types of protections, you will need to research the applicable laws in your jurisdiction (or hire a lawyer to assist you).

If you prefer to have a lawyer assist you, I would try JustAnswer. They boast access to thousands of highly-rated, verified real estate lawyers whom you can connect with via their unlimited chat service.

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Tips on How to Respond to a Rent Increase During the Middle of a Lease

Communication is the first step.

You should reach out to your landlord to full understand why they are asking to increase your rent. They may have a valid reason for doing so or may be permitted to do so under your lease or state and local laws.

You should hear it from them and not guess as to the reason.

Once you know their reason, you should investigate whether they are justified in raising the rent on that basis. If you need assistance, you should contact a lawyer to help you navigate through this issue.

If you feel they are not justified, you should respond in writing letting them know. Oftentimes, if your response is professional, polite yet firm, that may be enough to dissuade them from pressing you further on the increase.

But if they are not cooperating, you can try to work out an amicable compromise. For example, you can agree to some sort of increase in exchange for some benefit you’ve always wanted (like getting a pet, repainting the walls to a color you like, etc.).

If negotiations break down, you may have no choice but to file a lawsuit. To make sure you have a strong case, you should first carefully analyze your lease agreement and applicable local legislation.

It is crucial to take into account the repercussions of not paying the increased rent because failure to do so could lead to eviction. As stated before, hiring a lawyer at this point is sensible.


In conclusion, a landlord may generally not increase rent during the middle of a lease unless the lease permits it or there is some other change to the rental arrangement that warrants it. If it is unclear whether the landlord has the right to increase your rent, then you may want to work together with your landlord to arrive at a solution that works for you.

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