How Much Can a New Owner Raise the Rent, Part Two

by Shilpi Paul

How Much Can a New Owner Raise the Rent, Part Two: Figure 1

Last week, UrbanTurf tapped Joel Cohn, the Legislative Director of DC’s Office of the Tenant Advocate, to help answer the question of how much a new owner can increase the rent on a tenant who still lives on a pre-existing month-to-month lease. Cohn’s initial response assumed that the unit was under rent control; a commenter wondered if there were any limitations on units that were not bound by rent control.

We reached out to Cohn again, who gave us this prompt reply:

If the unit is not under rent control, generally speaking, the only limits on the amount and the frequency of rent increases are the terms of the rental agreement itself.

The D.C. Court of Appeals has indicated that there is an exception to this general rule. Specifically, the landlord cannot use the threat of an exorbitant rent increase to deprive the tenant of the ability to meaningfully exercise a statutory right. The key case in point is the tenant’s right to continue the tenancy on a month-to-month basis following the expiration of the initial lease term. Thus, the landlord may not threaten too exorbitant a rent increase to compel the tenant to sign a renewal lease. How exorbitant is [too exorbitant] is up to the Court.

Similar Posts:

See other articles related to: renting in dc, rent control

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/how_much_can_a_new_owner_raise_the_rent_part_two/6337


  1. mona said at 9:41 pm on Tuesday November 27, 2012:
    can the landlord use the increase in rent to compell a bad renter to move on? Say a 15% increase
  1. Anonymous said at 10:05 pm on Tuesday November 27, 2012:
    Did Cohn provide the specific law/case to which he was referring? My landlord is making just such a threat right now. I think a lot of times, landlords care so much about making every last cent that they forget that it is somebody's home.
  1. David Bediz said at 10:19 pm on Tuesday November 27, 2012:
    Two Points: 1. An owner who is not subject to rent control (one who owns four or fewer rental units in DC) may raise the rent by any amount for a tenant after their lease term ends PROVIDED the rent amount charged is considered "market" rent for the unit in its location. Any increase beyond "market" is considered "constructive eviction" which is illegal. 2. Mona, a tenant who is "bad" should be dealt with in a direct, legal way. But that is assuming that "bad" means they violate the lease in some way: use of illicit drugs, paying late or never, etc. Raising the rent doesn't solve the problem any easier than legal action for breach of the lease in any other way. If the tenant is abiding by the lease, the rent can be increased but under the restrictions I mention in #1.
  1. Shilpi Paul said at 12:02 am on Wednesday November 28, 2012:
    Hi Anonymous, We reached out to Joel, who gave us this answer: The case is “Double H Housing Corporation v. Brian David,” 947 A.3d 38 (DC 2008)(“Residential landlord was not precluded from conditioning rent discount on month-to-month tenant's execution of new 12-month lease agreement, absent finding of large disparity between discounted rent and rent charged as month-to-month so that tenant was effectively coerced into abandoning month-to-month tenancy that he was otherwise entitled to maintain.”) Shilpi
  1. nancy said at 12:50 am on Sunday February 10, 2013:
    When Archstone/Smith bought the building I'd lived in happily for 4 years they raised my rent $300/month. I moved out immediately And will never, ever, rent from them again.

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »