Q: I want to add a roommate to my lease. My landlord says if I do, he is raising my rent 10% per occupant. Is this legal?
He told me when I initially signed the lease that I could get a roommate to help with the rent, but made no mention of a rent increase if I did. I rented a two bedroom as the sole occupant at the time of the lease signing. He never provided me a copy of my lease, so I don't know if he specifies anything about roommates in it. He does pay w/s/g, so I am willing to offer to pay the increase in usage charges as I recognize those costs will increase with the additional bodies.
A: You need to get a copy of your lease as it may list a method for increasing rent during the term. If the lease does not specify a method for increasing the rent, no change in the rent can be made during the fixed term of the lease. However, the maximum amount rent can be raised in any 12 month rolling period is approximately 10.3% and any rent increase requires at least 90 days prior written notice in order to be enforceable. If your Landlord has failed to follow the requirements, you might be entitled to recover up to 3 months rent plus your court costs and attorney's fees. As for utilities, your Landlord can arguably charge you for them, but your Landlord must have specific disclosures in a written lease, so watch for that in any new lease. I would recommend speaking with an attorney after you get a copy of your lease.
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