Landlord raises rent 1 cent after stamp cost rises

The Maryland attorney general is blocking the rent increase, saying landlords can only raise rent when a contract is renewed.

A penny for your thoughts — but rent, too?

A Maryland woman says she was left perplexed after her landlord informed her that her monthly rent was going up by 1 cent — to make up for the cost of mailing a letter, which is going up by the same amount.

She wrote a letter to The Consumerist, a consumer affairs blog, saying that she was notified of the rent hike via a letter delivered to her door.

"In short, to compensate for the recent $.01 increase in stamp prices, our rent will be increasing $.01 to cover the cost of mailing the bill. I have no idea if such spontaneous rent increases are even legal (all the information on rent increases I can find is on increases when renewing a lease, which is not the case here) or where to log a complaint, if they are not," her letter said.

"I also seriously wonder how it is even cost effective to take the time to write, print, and deliver letters in order to collect 1 cent extra, per month. To the best of my knowledge, they do not offer leases longer than 12 months, so the maximum benefit is 11 cents. The average benefit has to be significantly lower."

The woman attached a purported copy of the landlord's letter, which stated:

"The United States Postal Service has announced that it will increase postage fees by $0.01 on January 27, 2013. ... Due to this USPS increase, your monthly bill (which includes rent, utilities and other ancillary items, and is sent by [redacted] will also be increased by $0.01. The increase will go into effect on the bills you receive in February 2013, due on March 1, 2013."

RELATED: End of Saturday mail: Who will notice?

Karen Straughn, Maryland assistant attorney general and director of the agency's mediation unit, said the penny hike would be legal only if it's done when the rental contract is renewed. "But they (landlords) can't do it midterm," she told MSN News.

Straughn said if it's the latter case, the woman can file a complaint with the state attorney general's office.  

The Maryland woman isn't the only one to be taken aback by a landlord's justification for a rent increase.

In Utah, a suburban Salt Lake City man says he was told his rent is going up $20 a month because of policies enacted by President Barack Obama.

Mat Carter told ABC4 that a letter taped to his door last month informed him of the rent hike.

"We will have no choice but to increase rent to offset the changes agreed upon by the President and Congress," the letter read.

It added "we are very sorry that this has to occur. You see, we actually felt it would not become an issue because we felt the conservative challenger would be elected and reverse congressional power."

Carter said he’s not as upset by his rent going up as he is by the landlord's rationale and the way it was presented.

"State it in the letter why we have to raise rent, you know? But don't start blaming the president of the United States," Carter told ABC4.

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