How to Cope When Your Rent Sky-Rockets

It happened to me, this past year I lived in my very first apartment, all on my own. It was a big step for me, but it was within my budget and I was assured by my leasing agent that at the time, the rents were not increasing substantially from year to year. Flash forward to now; I live in Montgomery County, a county without rent control. I am two months away from the end of my lease and so, as expected, I received my renewal letter. I was stunned when I opened the envelope. My rent had increased by 25% for the longest lease option.

In debt

My jaw dropped. I panicked. My stomach was sick. All I could think was, “This has to be a mistake.” When faced with this situation, which you may at some point on your renting life face it, here are my tips for surviving and coming out on top:


Don’t Panic

For most people, a 25% percent increase means they will need to move. A raise in this ballpark can be considered a sky-rocket and a realistic response is at least a little bit of nausea. However, if you find yourself in this situation, try to avoid panicking. Although moving can be time and money consuming, you are going to make it even in that worst case scenario. Read your renewal letter carefully and take deep breaths so you can understand your options.

Search: Find Apartments for Rent in Bethesda, Maryland


Talk to your Leasing Agent (ASAP)

No time to waste. Unfortunately, most apartment buildings require two months notice to vacate. You’ll need to speak with your leasing office sooner rather than later to find out what caused the increase in rent, if there’s any way around it or if they might have any manageable options for you. Put your big kid pants on, this can be an intimidating conversation (at least it was for me), but it’s an important one.

Unfortunately, in my situation, there was no wiggle room. Because MoCo is not rent controlled, the increase in my rent was dictated by the recent renovations undergone by my building and the leasing office was not budging.


Check out the Market

Once you have the conversation with your leasing office, check what else is out there. Maybe they offered you a compromise or maybe they didn’t but either way you might see better deals or your housing priorities may have shifted over your time in your apartment.

Arlington neighborhood near the courthouse

See what the ideal location or building will cost you, if your rates are going up anyway maybe it’s time to upgrade or maybe you need to shift gears in your housing needs altogether. In my situation, I realized that my rent was going to increase due to amenities provided by my building that I wasn’t actually using. In my search for a new place, I prioritized location and quality within the unit and without the amenities I was able to find an apartment that doesn’t compromise on space and costs me less per month. It also places me much closer to a metro.


Weigh the Pros and Cons

Think your decision through. Check out some apartments. Make a pro-con list. You’ll feel better about your ultimate decision if you take the time to carefully lay out all your options.

Related: 6 Questions to Ask When Touring an Apartment Community


Make your Decision

I know it’s tricky and I know this decision had to be made quickly, but ultimately you will have to ask yourself, “Should I stay or should I go?” And eventually, you’ll have to have an answer.

For me, the decision was easy as my leasing office didn’t budge on the price, but if your leasing office works with you and helps you out maybe their loyalty and respect for your business will keep you in their building. Or maybe your rent increase was a blessing in disguise (mine was) and you’ll find something better or get a roommate and make a new friend. Whatever the case, don’t belabor this decision – sitting on it too long might stress you out more. It’s important to strike a balance between being well informed and sorting things out in a timely fashion. And once you do make your decision, I recommend that you don’t look back.


Communicate your Decision with your Leasing Office

Finally, your leasing office needs to know what you are doing – don’t forget to tell them!

I wish you the best of luck if you find yourself in this situation – it’s a toughie, but if I made it through, you can, too! Don’t forget to enlist Apartment Showcase in the search for your perfect home.

Elaina Hundley

Elaina Hundley is an education professional with a passion for cozy, affordable home decor. She loves coffee, watching "Fixer Upper," and tries to read and write as much as she can in her free time.