As a Utah landlord, you probably already know that a low tenant turnover rate is good for business. It means higher rental yield.
A high tenant turnover, on the other hand, spells problems. It means spending more time and money trying to find replacement tenants.
So, what steps should you follow if you need to raise the rent?
Well, for starters, you need to do some market research to find out what the prevailing market rate is and ensure strict adherence to Utah landlord-tenant laws regarding rent matters.
The price of rent should be a balance between attracting the best tenants, remaining competitive, and wanting the highest possible rental income. The right rent price will attract tenants who are of high quality.
These tenants are often drama-free, clean, honest, credit-worthy, responsible, respectful, and more importantly, pay rent on time.
What to Do to Keep Renters Pleased While Increasing Price of Rent
- Let your renters know that rent increases won’t be frequent. This will encourage them to stick around for at least that amount of time because they feel secure knowing that rent won’t be going up any time soon.
- Be honest with your tenants. Educate your tenants on why you are raising the rent. A tenant who’s not adequately informed may assume that you are raising the rent for selfish reasons. You could tell them that your expenses have gone up and that it is affecting your business.
- Build a healthy landlord-tenant relationship. If you’ve already spent time building one, chances are they will be more understanding of a rent increase.
A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Increase the Rent on Your Utah Rental Property
Step 1: Determine the Reason(s) for Raising the Rent
Just because you are the landlord doesn’t mean you can raise the rent indiscriminately. There needs to be some form of justification. One obvious reason why landlords raise the rent is to ensure their business remains profitable.
The business cannot remain profitable if there is a negative cash flow. Calculate your expenses to help determine your cash flow. Common expenses include insurance premiums, property taxes, HOA dues, and cost-of-living expenses.
Step 2: Determine How Much the Rent Increase Will Be
Rent prices have increased by 8% from last year in Utah, according to Fox13. Moreover, according to SmartMove, landlords have greater power to raise the rent as rental housing competition grows.
Keep in mind though that not all rental markets are the same. You need to conduct a comparative market analysis. The analysis will help you calculate the price of rent of similar properties in the Utah neighborhood.
Charging too much can result in your Utah rental property being too expensive for potential tenants. This could cause your property to remain vacant much longer. Undercharging rent, on the other hand, could mean that you are leaving money on the table.
Your goal should be to find the right balance between attracting the best residents, remaining competitive, and wanting the highest possible rental income. Depending on the state of the market, experts recommend a rent increase of about 3-5% annually.
Step 3: Decide the Right Time to Raise the Rent
Usually, this is communicated by state law or by your lease or rental agreement. You are required to give the tenant a notice of rent increase.
Under Utah rental laws, if a lease is month-to-month, you need to notify your tenants 30 days prior. And if a lease is fixed, then you need to notify your tenants 90 days prior. Notifying your tenants early gives them an opportunity to adjust their budgets accordingly.
Step 4: Provide Your Tenants with a Notice of Rent Increase
This is where you need to put all your communication skills to work. You need to relay the information to your tenants as clearly and precisely as possible. The details of the arrangements must be written.
Make sure you cover all the basic information to avoid creating room for confusion, negotiation or arguments.
Red Flags in Raising the Rent
- Raising the rent as a retaliatory tactic against your Utah tenant is illegal. Under most landlord retaliatory statutes, a landlord can’t increase the rent, harass or evict a renter exercising their rights. Examples of such Utah tenant rights include requesting legally-mandated repairs or complaining to a government agency.
Like if a renter forms a tenant rights group within a multi-unit community to better enact change with the management. Another example of this might be if a tenant reports building code violations in your Utah rental property to the local regulating agencies.
Avoid raising the rent shortly after your tenant does any of this. If you do, many courts will automatically assume it to be a retaliatory act.
- Raising rent based on discrimination is illegal in Utah. According to Utah Federal Fair Housing Rules, it’s illegal to discriminate against a tenant based on their familial status, disability, religion, national origin, race or gender.
You’d be accused of discrimination if, say, you discover your tenant is gay and raise rent shortly thereafter. Another instance is if you raise rent shortly after discovering that your tenant has a baby.
How to Deal with Complaints
Complaints aren’t uncommon after a rental increase. However, renters who are generally satisfied living in your Utah rental property are less likely to complain.
For the complaints, here’s what you can do:
- State specific reasons for why you are raising the rent. You could cite expenses such as cost-of-living expenses, insurance premiums, higher utility costs and property taxes.
Additionally, you could also mention the property improvements or new amenities that you added recently.
- Educate your renter on the market rate. Your tenants will be less likely to complain if your new rent price is close to or below the average price of comparable rentals. That’s why it pays to conduct a comparative market analysis prior to raising the rent.
Rent increases can upset even the most reasonable tenants. However, if done in a fair and structured way, you can get through it with fewer issues. Hopefully, you will find this guide useful when raising the rent on your Utah rental property.