How to navigate potential rent increase in 2021

Post date: 2020-12-03 09:33:22
Views: 15
Our landlady has the past two years increased our rent around the anniversary of our move in date. After the first year we've been month-to-month lease. We love our place and have no plans to move. Given the state of the world, the fact that we've been able to keep paying rent on time, and the current local market, I'd love to not have a rent increase this year. I'm not amazing at these sorts of conversations, so would love some advice on how to proceed.

We generally love the apartment. It fits us well and, while a bit small during the pandemic, is reasonably sized for the Bay Area. This is to say we're not looking to move anytime soon and would prefer not to all things being equal.

This is definitely a smaller operation, we deal with her, there's no management company, etc. The building itself is a condo unit so most other units are owner occupied, though there are also other renters as well. In fact, right now there are 3 other units for rent at +/- 7% rent open, one of which has been on the market for 6 months. As for the rest of the market, it's on the mid-high end in terms of rent per square foot, but there are other factors that up its value in our eyes which means it's not something we're chafing under or feel is unfair in the local area.

We do try and take good care of the place, I'm not certain how she'd rate us in terms of high or low need tenants, we've certainly had some projects crop up that were bigger deals, specifically there was a root growing into our toilet which required some work and there was a huge build-up of dryer lint that needed a good cleaning in the duct systems. Obviously not something we were at fault for, but still did require outlays and more extended work. Otherwise we pay rent on time and in full, even thankfully during the pandemic.

All this to say I'd really like to avoid a rent increase this year. I understand that at month-to-month there isn't the same protections as if we had a lease, and that even after verbally agreeing she might in a few months ignore it and send a rent increase anyways. However it's easier for me to act and know the right move if there's been a clearer boundary violation, so I feel more confident in pushing back or moving were that the case. In situations that are more nebulous, I tend to get into my own head both about the right course of action and how I present myself.

Is the best approach to a) discuss it now before hand? Should I b) wait and see what she does? In these situations I'm never sure how strongly I should come across and how strong I actually do come across. In my head I feel all the drafts sound pretty wishy-washy, but I feel weird about removing that because it ends up sounding harsh and demanding in a way that feels alien to me.

If a) should I mention we might move if she does increase, should I even put any facts about how long the other apartments in the same complex have been on the market? Do you just start with "hey in the past you've raised our rent around the year mark, this year we were hoping to forgo that given the global circumstances and our past history of good payments"?

If b) what's the wording to say hey we see this, we don't want this, but don't want to move out so let's talk? Has the ship sailed if the letter's already been drafted, or does it give us a decent position to talk to her?

As you can see I feel a bit stuck and unsure of how to proceed. Depending on the rent increase we might move, but that would be a last resort and I know undermines any leverage we might have, so I figured it'd be more appealing to better natures and showing that if we did make good everyone loses. I don't know how to do that though in a way that doesn't feel awkward and uncomfortable, so would love some advice.
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