As a landlord, you undoubtedly already know that high tenant turnover can be costly. It’s much easier and cost-effective to retain good tenants than it is to advertise your property and try to find new ones.
But what happens when you need to raise the rent?
Whether you want to do it 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. After all, rent raises can upset even the most reasonable tenants, and you don’t want to end up losing them.
The good news is that, by following a few simple steps, you can likely keep your tenants around when the rent goes up.
Here’s how you can both legally and painlessly raise the rent in Anne Arundel County and the surrounding Maryland areas:
Tips for Keeping Tenants Happy While Raising the Rent
Build a healthy tenant/landlord relationship
Think about it – it’s a lot 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 happy relationship with your tenants, they should be a lot more understanding when the time comes for you to raise the rent. 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 that you’re raising the rent because you’re greedy and want to squeeze every penny possible out of them. It’s your job to let the tenant know that that simply isn’t true and explain the real reason you’re raising the rent.
Tell them how the rent being too low is negatively affecting your business or explain that costs have gone up and then share how the new rent rate reflects those costs. Just make sure you have the numbers to back up your claims if a tenant asks for details – you don’t want to end up looking dishonest.
While this step isn’t absolutely necessary, humanizing the increase can help make the transition to a higher monthly rent easier for a reasonable tenant. They might not be happy about the increase, but at the end of the day, they should understand that you’re just doing your job and that it doesn’t make good business sense for you to undercharge the tenants living in your properties.
Let your tenants know that rent increases won’t be a common occurrence
If you can promise your tenants that you won’t increase the rent again for a specified amount of time, this is the perfect chance to do it. By letting them know, you’ll encourage them to stick around for at least that amount of time because they’ll feel secure knowing that they won’t end up paying more monthly than they already are any time soon.
How to Legally Raise the Rent in Maryland
In Maryland, specific laws apply to landlords who are looking to raise the rent. For example, Maryland landlords are required to let tenants know at least one month ahead of time when the rent is going to increase. In certain counties (Montgomery County, for example), a two month notice is required, so be sure to research your local laws in addition to the Maryland state laws before you raise your tenants’ rent.
Another notable law for Maryland landlords states that, when tenants have a long-term lease, the landlord can’t raise the rent until the lease ends and a new resident begins their tenancy in the property. Plus, landlords can’t ever raise the rent because of discrimination against a tenant’s race, sexual orientation, or religion. Landlords must also avoid raising the rent in retaliation against a tenant who has complained to the city about a code violation.
Keep all of these laws in mind (as well as your local laws and any other applicable laws), and then you can follow this process to raise your tenants’ rent:
- Write a rent increase letter. The 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.
- Consider including the reason for raising the rent 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.
- Attach a new lease to the letter 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.
- 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 letter that you have enjoyed having them as a resident 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 actually go a long way when you’re raising the rent!
If you would like assistance with unwanted landlord responsibilities, consider partnering with our Anne Arundel property management team.
Dealing with tenant conflicts and the daily tasks associated with being a landlord can be tough, but we’ve got the experience necessary to assist you when you need it the most.
We can help you with rent collection, evictions, rental registration, inspections, maintenance, move-in/move-out reports, tenant screening and more. We also send you a monthly statement that shows how much you made from each of your properties so you can easily keep track of your landlord business’ profitability.