As you probably know, increasing your rent in your community can undeniably cause conflict and tension between you and your residents. Before raising the rent, consider our tips to protect your community from legal action and breaking the law. No one wants to loose great renters, and with our guide you can learn a few tactics to successfully raise the rent and retain your residents.
Consider These before Raising the Rent
Before you raise the rent, you need to make sure that the raise is in compliance with your state and local laws. Not only is policy that reinstates rent controls gaining popularity in California and Oregon, but a few city ordinances that dictate fees and acceptable rent increases have already passed. For example, the City of Portland has an ordinance that requires properties to pay their renters a relocation fee if the rent is raised by more than 10% or if there is a no-cause eviction. City ordinances like Seattle’s CB 119855, which requires properties to rent their vacant units to qualified applicants on a “first-come, first-served” basis, and CB 118817, which makes it illegal to charge move-in administrative fees or pet fees, make retaining good residents a priority.
Additionally, you’re going to want to make sure this rent raise is well-timed. If you recently discovered information about a specific resident’s gender, race, national origin, religion, disability or familial status that you previously did not know (and are raising their rent alone), raising the rent could be seen as a result of discrimination. You also do not want the raise to seem like it’s out of retaliation for (for example) complaints received about their pet or because the renter requested extensive repairs. While this will usually not be an issue, timing rental increases carefully can help avoid a potential lawsuit.
Retaining Residents after a Rental Increase
If you want to retain your residents after increasing their rent, you need to be prepared. Whether you raised it to keep up with market rates, because of taxation, or for another reason, if your community members ask you should be willing to show them how you came up with your final numbers. While some communities make it a policy to raise the rent every year (in small increments like $10 or $15) to normalize rental increases and curb outrage, we recommend doing this sparingly. No one wants their rent raised for no reason, and if you choose to adopt this method, you’re going to need to justify the raises.
Be sympathetic. If you believe multiple renters will move because of the increase, set the effective date of the raise beyond 30-days. This will ultimately give you more time to prepare for a vacancy (or more), and give your residents more time to adjust financially to the raise if they choose to stay. Consider giving your tenants some options as well. Depending on whether you’re increasing the rent on a specific unit or are affecting the entire community, offer your residents a month-to-month rate, a lower 6 month rate, and an even lower 12-month rate to choose from. This will allow you to keep your community full with the residents you trust, obtain a higher rental rate, and avoiding the stress of a renter exodus.
Ultimately, if you have a good relationship with your residents and maintain communication, your renters will be more willing to stay despite a rent increase. They should want to stay a part of your community. While letting your renters know that you’ve raised the rent can be an unpleasant and awkward experience, by making it seem like you’re giving your residents options (either through earlier notice or with lease/price options), you can make your rental competitive while maintaining your renter’s trust. If your residents do decide to leave, we’ll have your tenant screening covered.
Have you raised your tenant’s rent before? Did you prioritize renter retention and communication, or not? Let us know your experiences in the comment section below & be sure to subscribe for more tips!
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About the Author
Becky Bower is the Communications Executive here at the Resident Screening Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.