If I’m on a month-to-month lease and the wall heater needs to be replaced, can the landlord pass the cost on to me by raisning my rent?

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If I’m on a month-to-month lease and the wall heater needs to be replaced, can the landlord pass the cost on to me by raisning my rent?

The cost is $3,500. Can he do that?

Asked on November 12, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A landlord can only directly (see below) charge you the cost of the water heater if--

1) you (or your family, guests, etc.) broke the water heater; or

2) your lease makes you responsible for this cost.

However, if you lease is up for renewal, or if you are on a month-to-month lease (written or oral/verbal), so that the landlord may raise the rent on a month's notice, then unless you are protected by rent control laws or by some term in a written lease limiting rent increases, the landlord may increase your rent. And since he may legitatimately increase it at this times, it doesn't matter "why" he's doing it--because of the cost of the water heater, because his taxes were raised, or because he wants to save for a vacation in Taihiti, for example; he can, limited only by rent control or lease provisions restricting increases, raise your rent for any reason when its term is up or on appropriate notice for a month-to-month lease.


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