Can my landlord increase the rent for the sole intention of getting me to move?

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Can my landlord increase the rent for the sole intention of getting me to move?

I am trying to move out of an apartment, but need 4 bedrooms and cannot find any place as of yet to move to in my city. My landlord has now told me he intends to increase the rent monthly to get me to move out. He didn’t say to get me to move out but that is the implied intent. What can I do legally, until I move out?

Asked on August 1, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you have a written lease for a definite term (e.g. a one-year lease), the landlord cannot increase the rent until the lease expires. But on expiration he can increase it; or if you are on a month-to-month lease, if you are not a rent-controlled unit, the landlord has a relatively free hand increase rent on a month's notice, and can do this with a intention of making you move. It's not impossible that a court might find that too many increases in a row is improper, since a landlord is not supposed to "retaliate" against tenants, but that is a subjective, not always easy to prove standard, and certainly a landlord can get a 10% or more annual increase at a minimum without it being subject to any reasonable challenge--and possibly significantly more, especially if the unit is currently under market value (e.g. he can move it up to market value. Unless you are in a rent-controlled unit (or your rent is subsidized by Section 8, which also puts limits on increases), you have no right to rent this unit at an affordable rate.


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