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How Can I Painlessly (and Legally) Raise the Rent?

raise the rent

Updated 6/7/24 by Bay Property Management Group

As a landlord, you undoubtedly already know that rent increases can be a risky game. After all, it can be necessary, but it also can bring with it high tenant turnover.  

Whether you need to raise the rent because of property value changes, taxes, improvements you’ve made to the property, personal needs, or another valid reason, you shouldn’t have to feel anxious about it. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, though. After all, rent increases can upset even the most reasonable tenants, and you don’t want to lose them. 

The good news is that, by following a few simple steps, you can more likely keep your tenants when the rent goes up. The property managers in Maryland have seen this situation play out time and time again, and we can share tips on how to deal with it as smoothly as possible. Below, you’ll uncover how you can both legally and painlessly make rent increases in Maryland. 

Tips for Keeping Tenants Happy When You Raise the Rent

Build a healthy landlord-tenant relationship

 It’s not hard to imagine why it could be easier to forgive someone you like than it is to forgive someone you can’t stand. This applies to all kinds of relationships, including the tenant-landlord relationship. If you’ve already spent time cultivating a good relationship with your tenants, they should be a lot more understanding when the time comes for you to make a rent increase. Plus, getting to know your tenants personally makes it easier for you to know the best possible way to approach them. 

Be honest with your tenants 

An uninformed tenant might assume you raise the rent because you greedily want to squeeze every penny possible out of them. It’s your job to prevent such tenant conflicts. So, you must let the tenant know that that simply isn’t true and explain the real reason you’re making a rent increase.  

Humanizing your reason for rent increases can help make the rent increase transition easier for tenants. After all, many people can relate to, and sympathize with, falling on hard times. 

Times are tough, and many people are just getting by. So, you will need to have a real, urgent reason for putting a higher financial burden on them. For instance, they won’t take kindly to you if your rationale is that your profit has slid from booming to just decent. After all, “decent” profits may give you a little less wiggle room, but they ultimately won’t jeopardize your day-to-day financial survival.  

Instead, you should tell them how the current rent rate negatively impacts your financial stability. For instance, you could explain that costs have gone up—costs you can’t shoulder alone—and that the new rent increase reflects these costs. Just make sure you have the numbers to back up your claims if a tenant asks for details. After all, you don’t want to end up looking dishonest. 

They might not be thrilled about the rent increase, but hopefully, in the end, they should understand you’re just trying to get by like they are. In turn, this will protect your reputation when you’re looking to attract new tenants. 

Let your tenants know that rent increases won’t be a common occurrence 

If you can promise your tenants that you won’t make a rent increase again for a specified amount of time, this is the perfect time to do it. By letting them know, you’ll encourage them to stick around for at least that amount of time. With your reassurance, they’ll feel secure knowing they won’t pay more rent than they already do any time soon. 

How to Legally Raise the Rent in Maryland 

Maryland has specific laws for landlords seeking to make rent increases. Landlords must pay attention to these if they want to stay compliant with general landlord-tenant laws. The best way to do this is to provide a rent increase notice within the following required timeframes: 

  • Maryland landlords must provide 90 days’ rent increase notice if their tenant has stayed in their unit for over a month. 
  • Any tenants whose term lasts more than a week but less than a month must receive a rent increase letter 60 days in advance. 
  • Tenancies that started a week or less ago with a written lease require 7 days’ rent increase notice. 
  • Tenancies that started a week or less ago without a written lease require a rent increase notice 21 days beforehand. 

One big footnote is that local laws may override this law, so you should always check to see what your specific area has in store for you. Furthermore, this law has a few exceptions, such as when a landlord has given written notice of intent to evict a tenant. 

Keep all these laws in mind, and then you can write a letter of intent to increase your rent. It could go like this: 

Rental Increase Notice Letters: A Guide  

  1. Basic Information: The rent increase letter should include the tenant’s name, the current rent amount, and the new rent amount. It should also include your signature and let the tenants know when their lease will end if they choose not to renew. 
  2. An Explanation: Consider including the reason for the rent increase if you think it will help ease any future conflicts with the tenant. Doing so might make your tenants more likely to sympathize with you and see the rent increase from your perspective. 
  3. New Lease: Attach a new lease to the rent increase notice and highlight where the tenant needs to sign/initial if they want to renew. Let them know when they should get the new lease back to you. This visual cue plants lease renewal into their minds as an assumed outcome, instead of tenant turnover. 
  4. Send the letter/lease to your tenant: You may want to verify that they received it to avoid any disputes in the future. 

Be sure to let the tenants know in your rent increase letter that you have enjoyed having them as residents and hope that they choose to continue their tenancy with you. While this might seem like an insignificant action, a little bit of friendliness can go a long way when you’re raising the rent! 

Handle Landlord-Tenant Relations with BMG 

You can accomplish a smoother transition when you raise the rent by displaying transparency and honesty throughout the process. People will appreciate it if you are open about why a rent increase is necessary for your financial health. 

However, if you would prefer to not have to go through the discomfort of this ordeal at all, professionals can navigate it for you. Situations like this are exactly what property managers are trained to oversee.  

At Bay Management Group, we have the experience necessary to help you when you need it the most. To name just a few examples, we can take care of rent increase notices, rent collection, evictions, rental registration, inspections, maintenance, move-in/move-out reports, tenant screening, and more. We can even send you a monthly statement of how much you made from each of your properties so you can easily keep track of your profitability. So, if you have a property located in Maryland, we can serve as a resource for streamlining your business. Contact our team today to put the hard, uncomfortable work of being a landlord out of your equation.