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Rent increases

Fair Housing


July 20, 2019

Karen Drum-Sousa

Historically, landlords and tenants have been on opposite sides of the fence. Thankfully, the Fair Housing Laws define the rights of both as well as all aspects of housing transactions from rental, sales, realtors, management companies, insurance, etc. This column is designed to bridge the gap between the two.

Rent increases are covered under the California Civil Code, sections 827a and 827b. Unless you live in an RSO (Rent Stabilization Ordinance) area, a landlord can increase the rent, as often as they want and as much as they want as long as it isn't an action based on retaliation and/or discrimination, and as long as the increase is given with the proper written notice.

If you have a lease for more than 30 days your rent cannot be raised for the duration of the lease, unless the lease allows rent increases. If you have a periodic rental agreement (month-to-month), your landlord can increase your rent with proper notice in writing. The written notice must give the amount of the increased rent, and the date that the increase goes into effect. California Law guarantees a tenant at least a 30 days advance written notice of a rent increase.

Under the law, your landlord must give you at lease 30 days advance notice if the rent increase is 10 percent (or less) of the rent charged at any time during the 12 months before the rent increase takes effect. If the rent increase is greater than 10 percent, your landlord must give 60 days advance notice.

Any notice of rent increase from your landlord must be in writing. The notice can be delivered to you by hand or mailed. If mailed, the notice should be addressed to you at the property address. Also, if the notice is mailed, the landlord must give an additional five days notice (mailing date must be five days before the 30 or 60 day notice period).

Even though there is no limit to the frequency and amount of rent increases, the landlord should consider the potential negative ramifications. If a tenant has been a long-term tenant, pays rent on time, follows the rules of the property, takes care of property, contributes to the community, etc., the landlord must consider that they could lose this tenant.

On the other hand, a tenant must realize that the landlord is operating a business. Like all businesses, the business owner has put their money into an investment in order to financially benefit. The property owner has every right to keep up with rising rental rates in order to maximize their profit.

Please email any questions to

Karen Drum-Sousa is not an attorney. Karen Drum-Sousa has been a Fair Housing advocate since her employment in the industry in March of 2000. To date, her experience includes discrimination testing, landlord/tenant mediation/conciliation and working with HUD and the DOJ as the C.O.O. of a Fair Housing organization.


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