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How much can my landlord legally raise our rent, given our month-to-month status?

Washington, DC |

1) Our landlords just unsuccessfully attempted to evict us because we refused to sign a new lease and desired to go month-to-month after living in the unit for 2 years. We have been on a month-to-month basis since August 1.
2) They are trying to raise the rent from $2,500 a month to $3,200 a month, citing market rates as the reason.
3) To the best of my knowledge, our apartment is not rent-controlled.

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

Assuming your landlord is not under rent control (rents 4 or less apts.), then rent can be raised to any reasonable amount after 30 days written notice to tenant (counting days from rent due date). Raising it 28% after 2 years may not be reasonable and, in fact, may be in retaliation for not signing a lease. This can be contested 2 ways: one is to file a Tenant/Petition complaint with DCRA (Dept of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs); the other is to pay the old rent, let landlord sue you for non-payment, and then bring this matter up as a defense in that suit.

Asker

Posted

On the retaliation note: given the facts that they 1) tried to kick us out without a valid reason, 2) offered a lease for $2,600/mo prior to that, and 3) raised the rent 28% after we had OTA in DC send a letter to them explaining that their notice to vacate was invalid...would you say the case for retaliation is clear? I have all of this documented in e-mail/hard copy.

Lynn Johnson

Lynn Johnson

Posted

Avvo Email - Have no legal fear Given those facts, I would say you have a very strong case. So strong that if I was representing you, I would contact your landlord and hopefully convince him/her to withdraw their rent increase. Lynn H. Johnson, Esq. JOHNSON & PAVUK 1413 K St., NW, Suite 1500 Washington, DC 20005 Tele. 202/371-0962 Email: Lynn@Johnsonandpavuk.com *

Posted

If your landlord has a registered exemption from rent control and you are month to month nothing legally prevented from increasing your rent. You can always try to negotiate with him and discuss how you can make things work better. But look around at market rents for your neighborhood for similar properties. Is the increase reasonable? Rents are increasing in DC and in some areas more than others. Figure out what it would cost you to rent another similar property so your negotiations are informed.

Asker

Posted

The rent increase is probably wise from their perspective, as rents on Capitol Hill are closer to their new figure. But from our perspective, it's retaliation for refusing to sign a lease. They previously offered a 12-month lease at $2,600/month, but when we turned it down, they came back with this (and had already tried to throw us out).

Posted

If there is no agreement as to rent, they can ASK for whatever they want, but if you don't agree to pay it, they'd have to prove in court that what they are requesting is the fair rental value for the apartment.

Might be worth trying to figure out what similar apartments in your neighborhood are going for.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER Mr. Borbely is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia. His response in this forum is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter in question.

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