Q: I am renting a condominium in Philadelphia. My landlord, the owner of the unit, intends to increase my rent payment.

Are there any rules that regulate how much the rent rates can be increased and how often? Does it matter if my neighbors pay more than me?

Thank you very much.

A: Typically, large cities have rules that regulate how much landlords can increase the rent for a tenant in a given year. Often, this is tied to a financial index, like the Consumer Price Index or it might be a flat rate increase of, say 4 or 5 percent of the rental amount. So, if you pay $1,000 per month in rent, and the city, town or village in which you live limits the rent increase to 5 percent, the most your rent could go up would be $50.

If the city in which you live does not limit the rental increase, you should then look to your rental agreement. Most leases between a landlord and a renter spell out how much the rent can be raised at the end of the lease term. Again, this is typically limited to a few percentage points.

I suggest you read your lease to see what it says about how much the landlord can raise your rent this year. To find out if Philadelphia has any rules and regulations the landlord must follow, contact the Philadelphia Housing Authority, or city hall.

Nov. 19, 2004.