“Hi, I have a letter from the landlord. I think they want to raise your rent.”
The next thing I wondered was: Can my landlord raise my rent?
It was a May 17th afternoon. A Wednesday. I had just arrived to our apartment building, weary from my busy and deadening day of work. Busy week. Crises abounding left and right. Last-minute requests and deadlines that we are never informed of until the very last second. I was happy the day was over.
I got out of my car, noting that my concierge and his wife were standing out on their balcony. It’s not such a rare occurrence, but not that common either. Yet something was a bit off, as the wife hurried inside as soon as they got sight of me. What, am I that terrifying after work? Was my light makeup somehow fucked up and she wanted to tell me how I was a disgrace to womankind? Well, she doesn’t wear makeup herself so that’s a far-fetched story, but my brain does weird things when stressed.
When I went in to unlock the building door, it buzzed twice. Okay, weird. And then I walked up the stairs a bit. The second floor door opened just as I approached the turn: “Hi, I have a letter from the landlord. I think they want to raise your rent.”
Nothing really showed on my face — I have a very well-practised poker face from dealing with the work crises — but my stomach dropped just a little. And I just wanted to get it over with, to be honest. It’d been a long day, and I just wanted to get into the shower and into my pajamas for the rest of the evening.
“You know, I don’t understand why they’re raising your rent so quickly. You haven’t even been here a year. You can contest it, you know. Here, can you sign this? I need to prove you got the letter today.”
And so dutifully I signed, waved away her further concerns, and marched up the stairs to present the letter to my boyfriend, who, like me, was rather incensed about the whole thing.
I mean, it was just a $13 raise. Not a big deal, my mother later said. She also advanced, however, that many landlords will freeze rent hikes on good renters that they want to stay. So, what gives? We haven’t trashed the place, we’ve paid in advance every month, and we’re diligent about the noise curfew. Sure, I do the dishes after 10pm most days, but that hardly qualifies as “loud”.
That night, I planned out the letter you’re about to read. We were both angry, my boyfriend and I, that we’d been singled out for a rent hike despite all the issues we’d had over the months. And yet, we’d always dutifully paid on time, and been graceful about broken promises over the months.
So this is the letter I wrote:
Dear Mr X,
We received your letter regarding our rent increase on May 17th, to be effective October 1st, 2017 until September 30th, 2018. Unfortunately, our response is not positive.
The apartment is nice, and we’ve enjoyed our living space so far. We’ve always paid rent on time, in fact well in advance, each month. We haven’t been delinquent on that front.
However, we did wait six months for repairs that were promised to be completed before we started living in the apartment in October 2017. When we visited the apartment, the concierge promised to have everything ready for us. The stove and the fridge weren’t there when we moved in. We had to wait a week or two if I remember correctly. The wardrobe shelves came in later too. And the kitchen cabinet doors were only installed six months into our lease. And there were other small repairs to be done in our bathroom from the onset. Small repairs all of them, but promises add up over months.
Every month we were promised said repairs, and nothing would happen. One night a few months ago the concierge knocked on our door promising that the repairman would be coming the next day to toil away. With that in mind, my boyfriend, who works night shifts, decided to take a night off work so he wouldn’t have to try sleeping the next day through repair noises. Well, the repairman showed up the next day, but he worked on another tenant’s apartment and never showed up to ours. The next month we were promised repairs again, and this time we wizened up. My boyfriend didn’t take the night off work, though we were promised early-day repairs. Well, the repairman only showed up in the afternoon, well after my boyfriend’s wake-up alarm.
We talked to the concierge about one of our windows that has a broken hinge; the window can’t close properly because it’s been crooked since before we moved in. This winter we definitely felt a cold draft. Therefore, we wasted precious electricity heating… the outdoors. Also, one of our baseboard heaters was never installed properly. We’re currently holding it up (but never turned it on because what if it’s not even wired properly either) by the base of a desk. The window: we were told it was fine. It’s letting drafts through. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like wasting electricity. The heater: we survived without, I guess.
Don’t get us wrong. We are happy with the apartment as a whole, but not with the way things have been handled on the other side of things. Again, we are not delinquents. We pay in advance every month. We haven’t disturbed other tenants. We keep to ourselves and are fairly quiet.
We don’t see any reason why we are being punished when we’ve handled everything else pretty gracefully. Considering all of our criticisms, we deem the increase you are proposing as preposterous. Luckily we do not ask for a decrease in rent instead for loss of use of the premises. We urge you to please rethink your terms of renewal.
What do you think? Do you think we’re being belligerent babies or understandably frustrated?
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