Raising rent on advertised unit a risky move

Rent it Right

Q: I've taken over the management of my family's small apartment building and recently spoke with someone who answered my ad for a vacant unit. After talking with other owners nearby, I realized that I had set the rent $200 below market. We haven't signed a lease yet, and I'm wondering if I can correct my mistake. --Tim A. A: It's a delicate matter to increase the rent after the unit has been listed or advertised at a specific rate. Whether you can do so with minimal risk of legal trouble depends, first, on your reasons, and secondly, on the extent to which someone has relied on the first figure. At one end of the spectrum, a typo in a newspaper ad, particularly one that resulted in an obviously wrong rent, could be confidently corrected. At the other end of the scale, a landlord who upped the rent to discourage tenants of a certain race or religion would unquestionably be breaking the law. You're somewhere in between, having made a bad business decision that you now want ...