How high can your landlord jack up your rent before it’s illegal?

Debunking myths about rent

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond woman called 12 with that question after finding a notice on her door announcing a huge rent increase.

On Your Side Investigator Diane Walker got an answer and it may be surprising what the law allows landlords to do.

A rent increase of $106.00 dollars a month could put Terry Lynn Smith out on the streets she says. But, while it may be surprising, what her landlord is doing to her and other tenants is not illegal in Virginia.

For more than a decade The Crossings at Bramblewood is where Terry Lynn calls home. She’s accustomed to seeing $15 per month rent hikes. So, imagine the shock when her lease renewal letter arrived showing different options and all resulting in a larger rent increase.

Smith says, “It’s just not fair to be living somewhere and all of a sudden out of the blue from left field to have your rent go up $106.00 dollars a month.”

In Virginia there is no limit on the dollar amount a landlord can raise your rent. It’s all legal if the landlord goes about it properly.

Smith adds, “I don’t think it was fair. I don’t think it’s justified because if they had come in here and given me a new dryer, a new dishwasher, a new stove, a new refrigerator, new cabinets, new vanity in the bathroom, then I would say it would be justified.”

She says she’s still waiting on repairs for a broken window and she’s had the same carpet for 11 years although she says management has offered to clean it if she moved her furnishings.

Smith adds, “When I cam home from work and I found the new faucet, I started crying I was so happy.”

Rent cannot be raised during the term of the rental agreement. In other words, your landlord must give written notice and can only raise your rent when the lease is up for renewal which is what The Crossings at Bramblewood is doing.

All tenants whose leases expire in January have received a lease renewal letter with a rent increase announcement.

Smith says, “It’s devastating to me because I’m doing everything possible so that I can maintain someplace to live ... this could mean that I could be out on the streets.”

NBC12 called the apartment complex office and left a message with the staff but hasn’t heard back.

Smith says she doesn’t have enough money to move and asked management for an adjustment.

She just heard back by email that there will be no adjustment to the renewal offer.

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