Rent Increases: Communicating Changes With Tenants

by Patrick Freeze  9/27/2023

Owning and managing rental properties can be pretty costly. After all, you have to think about taxes, utilities, insurance, and property management services. Additionally, you must consider how these costs rise over time, leaving you with even higher expenses. Landlords may need to implement periodic rent increases to compensate for raising prices. However, it’s important to know the laws and proper ways of informing tenants about rent increases. So, read along as we go over what you need to know about communicating with tenants. 


Contents of This Article: 

  • When Can You Increase the Rent?
  • How Much Can You Increase Rent By?
  • How to Tell Your Tenants About Rent Increases
  • Can Tenants Negotiate Rent Prices?
  • Tips for Northern Virginia Property Managers

When Can You Increase the Rent?

Owning rental properties is a great way to earn passive income. However, when the market changes and prices rise, you may need to consider raising the rent to keep up with necessary expenses and earn a fair return on your investment. 

Increasing rent prices can be a challenging part of property management. After all, you want to keep your current tenants happy, but you also need to consider your rental income. So, when is a fair time for landlords or Northern Virginia property managers to increase the rent?

The rules and regulations regarding rent increases may vary depending on the jurisdiction and local laws. However, here are some general guidelines that often apply to landlords

  • End of Lease Term- If a tenant is on a fixed-term lease, like a one-year lease, you generally can’t raise the price until the lease term ends. Otherwise, you may be able to if there’s a specific clause in the lease that allows for it. 
  • Month-to-Month Tenancy- In a month-to-month tenancy, where the tenant doesn’t have a fixed-term lease, landlords can raise at any time. However, you must usually give at least 30 days’ notice before officially raising the price. 
  • Start of a New Lease- New tenants aren’t guaranteed the same rental rate as the previous tenants. So, if you’re starting a new lease agreement, you can raise the rate at that time. 

When Can Landlords NOT Raise Rent Prices?

While rent increases are necessary to keep up with rising expenses, there are certain times when it may be illegal for landlords to raise their rates. For instance, you can’t just decide one day to increase the rent for the next month. Instead, you’ll have to wait until the lease renewal date to make any major changes. A few other scenarios where increases may not be permitted include the following. 


  • The lease states that the rent will not increase upon renewal
  • You didn’t give the tenant proper notice of any rent increases
  • The rate increase was retaliatory or discriminatory
  • State or local laws prevent rent increases

How Much Can You Increase the Rent By?

In many states and cities, including Northern Virginia, there’s no limit on rent increases a landlord can impose. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should double your rental rate when someone renews a lease. Instead, there are several factors to consider while deciding on rental rate increases. 

If you set your rental rates too high, you’ll have difficulty finding tenants. However, if you don’t increase your rates enough, you could potentially lose out on profits. So, here are a few things to consider if you need help determining how much to increase your rent. 

  1. Figure Out Operating Expenses
  2. Research Comparable Properties
  3. Stay Informed on Market Trends

Figure Out Operating Expenses

Before coming up with a new rental rate, consider how much you spend on your rental property each year. For instance, how much do you spend on your mortgage, insurance, taxes, property management, etc.? Then, add up all of your costs and determine any increases or changes in your expenses over the year. You’ll want to look at the entire year, as your monthly expenses may differ. 

Once you’ve got a total of what you’ve spent over a year, divide it by 12. That’s the minimum you’ll need to charge in order to cover your monthly expenses and break even. Finding this number can help you set rates that will help you profit. 

Research Comparable Properties

When deciding on rental rate increases, looking at the local area and comparable properties is important to see what other landlords charge each month.


Looking at rental comps can help determine how much your property is worth and help you figure out an ideal monthly rental rate. 

While no two rental properties are the same, landlords must look at properties in a specific location to consider the market value and rental rates. Additionally, look at different property types and sizes, along with similar amenities and other factors. Each of these factors plays a large role in determining fair rental rates. 

Stay Informed on Market Trends

The rental market is constantly changing and evolving each year. That said, prices can change and fluctuate in the blink of an eye. So, if you’re thinking about raising your rental rates, look at market trends for your local area. 

For example, look at how market trends affect the demand for rental properties. Are renters moving when rent prices increase? If they are, you may want to be careful about how much you raise your yearly prices. However, you can make steeper increases if the market favors higher rental rates. 

How to Tell Your Tenants About Rent Increases

Increasing rent prices without properly communicating with your tenants can negatively affect your landlord-tenant relationship. Additionally, it may violate state or local laws, resulting in legal trouble for your rental business. As such, here are some proper ways to inform your tenants of rent increases. 


  • Give Proper Notice- The most critical step in increasing rental rates is giving your tenants enough notice. Most jurisdictions require at least 30 days’ notice, but the more, the better. That way, you can give your tenants enough time to decide whether they’d like to renew the lease at a higher rate or find a new place to live. 
  • Send a Formal Letter- Verbally explaining a rent increase is not sufficient. You’ll want to have proper records of communication with your tenant. So, if you plan on increasing the rent, send your tenant an official notice through the mail so you have proof that the letter was sent.
  • Be Communicative- If you know you want to increase the rental rate each year, it helps to communicate that with your tenants. For instance, if you plan to increase the rent at the end of the term, consider adding a lease clause explaining the rent increase. 

Can Tenants Negotiate Rent Prices?

As much as you may want to raise the rent, most tenants want to avoid increases and keep their rates the same. So, if you’ve sent out notices of rent increases, don’t be surprised if some tenants come to you to negotiate a lower rate.

If your tenant wants to negotiate a new rate, it’s important to look at things from their perspective. After all, rent makes up a large portion of many people’s monthly expenses. So, shaving off even a tiny bit of the monthly rate can help them save and put money toward other important expenses. 

Tips for Northern Virginia Property Managers

When managing rental properties, there are several things for landlords and property managers to consider. Not only do you have to market rental properties, find qualified tenants, collect payments, and perform maintenance. Several more things go into property management. For instance, you’re responsible for determining rent increases and setting fair prices. 

If you’re having trouble keeping up with all the strenuous tasks of property management, you may consider hiring a full-service team to help you out. Professional Property Management of Northern Virginia has the expertise to help your rental business succeed. So, contact PPM today to learn more about our property management services. 

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