There comes a time in every landlord's career when it's time to raise the rent. Maybe your property taxes or insurance premiums have gone up, or maybe you've updated the property or the neighborhood's on its way up.
Whatever the reason, you're doing it -- and you need to let your renter know.
Exactly what goes in that rent increase notice, though? And how and when do you deliver it? This guide will break it all down.
What to include in a rent increase notice
A rent increase letter doesn't have to be lengthy. The main goal is to deliver the news clearly and succinctly and to maintain a friendly and professional tone while you do it (at least if you want to keep the tenant around).
In the body of the notice, you'll want to include these important points:
- The tenant's name and the address of their rental unit.
- The date you're writing/sending the letter.
- The current rent, the amount of the increase, and the total new rent amount.
- The date the increased rent will go into effect.
- The date by which the tenant must let you know if they are renewing their lease or not.
- Your contact info.
You should also include a short explanation as to why the rent is increasing. While you certainly don't have to justify your actions, a little transparency goes a long way in these situations. It also helps the tenant better understand where you're coming from, which may prevent any animosity or anger from bubbling up as a result.
When and how to send your rent increase notice
You should generally give your tenant at least a month or two's notice if their rent is going to increase, but it really depends on local law as well as the lease you have in place.
If your lease says they have to notify you of non-renewal at least 60 days before the current lease is up, you'll obviously need to send the increase letter in advance of that 60-day window to give them some time. You should also check with your local housing department to see if there's a legal lead time you need to adhere to.
As far as how to send it, your best bet is certified mail. This ensures you're notified when the tenant receives the letter and that there's no chance the notice is missed or swept under the rug. You can also have your property manager handle the task or hand-deliver the letter yourself.
Though alerting the tenant of their increased rent via text or email can be tempting, these don't offer any sort of confirmation once they've been read. There's a chance the renter could "miss" the notice and pretend they were unaware, leading to potential legal issues down the line.
The dos and don'ts of writing a rent increase notification
Writing a rent increase notice is a nuanced process. You want to keep it simple but detailed and professional but not cold. These dos and don'ts can help you do just that.
|• Personalize it. Don't use "Dear tenant" or "To whom it may concern." This is their money you're talking about, so cold and sterile probably isn't the best way to go about it. Use the renter's name and address them directly.||• Get too detailed. While you should offer a short explanation, it doesn't have to be super detailed. Throwing in personal details about your own financial struggles, your family, or other factors isn't necessary. Keep it professional and concise.|
|• Watch your tone. You want the letter to be friendly yet professional. Phrases like "Thank you" and "Sincerely" go a long way -- especially when talking about money. If you really want to keep them around, you might even throw in an "I've enjoyed having you as a tenant" or something else slightly complimentary.||•Put it off. Writing your notice might be hard, but don't delay it too long. The tenant deserves plenty of heads-up before the increase goes into effect. You also want a good cushion if they opt not to renew.|
|• Give them time. Avoid following up with the tenant too quickly. They will probably need some time to digest the increase as well as do some careful calculations with their roommate, spouse, or family members before they can make a decision.||•Forget to look into local laws. Depending on where you're located and what type of property you own, you might be required to give as much as 90 days' notice to your tenant. Always check up on what rent laws you're subject to in your area.|
|• Include "yes" and "no" boxes. Let the tenant agree or disagree right on the letter. You can even include a stamped envelope in the package to ensure they respond quickly.||• Skip the record-keeping. Be sure to print out a copy of your rent increase notice, and keep it with your records. You should also keep the receipt for your certified mail purchase. You never know when you might need legal proof of the notice later on.|
Example of a good rent increase notice
Struggling with writing your notice? Use this sample rent increase letter to guide you:
Dear TENANT NAME,
This notice is to inform you that as of RENT EFFECTIVE DATE, the monthly rent payment on RENTAL ADDRESS will increase RENT INCREASE AMOUNT, rising from CURRENT RENT to NEW RENT. The first payment will be due on DATE NEW RENT IS DUE and every XX day of the month thereafter.
The reason for this increase is varied; however, rising rents on comparable properties in the area are the main driver. [INSERT ANY EXPLANATION HERE]. If you agree to the new monthly rent of NEW RENT, please indicate so below by XX DATE, and return this letter using the included envelope. Once notified, I will deliver a lease renewal for your approval.
If you should have any questions regarding this increase, please get in touch. I value your tenancy and hope to hear from you soon.
The bottom line
Rent increase notices are never easy -- but they are necessary. Make sure you plan ahead for yours, and always give your tenant plenty of notice. This gives you time to market the property and find a new tenant before their rental agreement expires, ideally cutting down on vacancy time and minimizing those financial losses.
If your tenant does decline renewal due to the rent increase, get ready to hop on the marketing bandwagon fast. These advertising tips and expert-level marketing strategies can get you started.
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