A rent increase is illegal if your landlord tries to do so before your lease is up for renewal, or if it's a form of discrimination or retaliation. For example, a landlord can never raise the rent in an attempt to discriminate against anyone protected by the Fair Housing Act.
Most states have laws that specifically protect tenants from retaliatory rent increases as well. For instance, if you made a valid complaint about your unit’s habitability or called the police on your landlord for trying to illegally evict you—and then they hike up the rent—that's illegal, and you could sue for damages.
What if I have a month-to-month lease?
If you have a month-to-month lease, then your landlord has much more flexibility to increase the rent than if you had a year-long lease, for instance. However, they do have to give you the appropriate amount of notice—typically 30 days, although it varies depending on the state.
What if my apartment is rent controlled?
If you live in a rent-stabilized or rent-controlled building, your landlord also has to wait until your current lease term is up before raising the rent—but they can only increase it by the specific amount established by your state's laws.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.