Rent Increases

Division Of Student Affairs; Western Michigan University

Can a landlord raise the rent?

The answer usually is yes, but only if he does it right. There are certain situations when he cannot raise the rent.


If you have a lease, a landlord usually cannot raise the rent until the lease ends. BE SURE TO READ THE LEASE. Some leases say that the landlord can raise the rent if utility costs or taxes go up, or if somebody else moves in with you.

Retaliatory Rent Increase

A landlord cannot raise the rent to punish or get back at the tenant for doing something that he has a legal right to do, such as asking him to fix things, reporting him to the health department, or joining a tenants' union. This is called RETALIATORY RENT INCREASE and is against the law.


If a tenant does not have a lease, the landlord has to give the tenant written notice of the rent increase at least one rental period ahead of time.

A tenant's rental period depends on how often he pays the rent. If he pays once a month his rental period is a month. Therefore, if a tenant pays the rent by month, a landlord has to give him at lease one months' written notice before he can legally charge him more rent. If a tenant rents by the week, he has to give him at lease one weeks' written notice, and so on.

What if the notice isn't in writing?

The law in Michigan states that the notice has to be in writing. If it is not in writing it is no good. A landlord cannot verbally tell you he is raising the rent; he has to give you a written notice.

What if a landlord doesn't give a tenant enough notice?

If a landlord does not give the tenant a full rental period's notice (for example he only gives him two week's written notice when he pays by the month) the tenant does not have to pay the extra rent the next time the rent is due. This is because the tenant did not get enough notice to raise the rent for that month. However, the tenant will have to pay extra rent when the rent comes due for the months after that.

What can I do if a landlord raises the rent?

First a tenant can try talking to the landlord to find out why he wants to raise the rent.

A tenant can then:

  1. Move out,

  2. Pay the increased rent or

  3. Pay the old amount of rent and see what happens.

If a tenant does not pay the extra rent, a landlord can take him to court to try to evict him. If the tenant wants to fight the rent increase and the eviction, the tenant will have to go to court to tell the judge his side of the story.

A tenant going to court should seek the advice of an attorney or other qualified person first!

3510 Faunce Student Services Bldg.
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5077
Phone: (616) 387-2336
Fax: (616) 387-2325

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