In the modern rental market, some apartments and other types of homes for rent have requirements from their owners dictating the level of a tenant’s income. Typically, these require tenants to make three times their monthly rent in income to qualify, with some requiring up to four times the rent to ensure tenants will pay each month.
Over the past few years, rental rates have increased dramatically across the U.S., with a 16% increase observed nationally from 2021 to 2022, according to NerdWallet. While that growth has reportedly slowed, rents remain higher than they have historically.
A TikToker questioned the ethics of periodically raising rents without verifying that tenants can still afford it. In a video that has drawn over 111,000 views on the platform, real estate agent Melinda Lumpkin (@melindalumpkin) says landlords do not care if their tenants can afford the rent after they initially qualify for a unit.
“How is it ethical for an apartment to require you to make three times the income in order to qualify to get into an apartment, but then as soon as your lease ends, they increase the rent without verifying any income or anything like that?” she asks in the video. “That further proves what I stated in my pinned video—that these landlords do not care if you can afford the rent or not. They don’t care.”
The problem is one that may not entirely be solved by moving out, she says, unless a tenant moves to a different area, as rental rates are based on the local rental market.
“And I tried to play devil’s advocate, and be like ‘Well, they’re not making you pay the rent, you have a choice to either pay the higher rent or get out,’ but rent is based on the market,” she says. “So if they’re going up, all the other apartments are in the area are probably going to go up, too, so what you going to move to that’s affordable? Then, now that they went up, you’re not going to qualify for their three times the rent. It’s like the mob, it’s like they’re forcing you to continually pay more and more and more. How is that ethical? You basically have to move into these apartments with an exit strategy already in mind.”
The Daily Dot reached out to Lumpkin via email.
@melindalumpkin So what the point of having an income qualification? To jeep the broke broke folks out but let the just over broke and above in? 🤔 #this just why im not mad at tge stub makers and cpn dealers 😂#rentalapplication ♬ original sound – Melinda Lumpkin765
Some viewers shared they struggled to find housing due to income requirements—even for affordable housing. “I was rejected from low income housing for not making enough,” one commenter wrote. “I’m still trying to understand that one.
Other tenants called out the hypocrisy of the apartment complexes for increasing rent without increasing the standard of living. “For the same apartment with no new updates or nothing,” one said.
Many viewers speculated that landlords want to know how much their tenants make initially so they can continue to raise rent to that amount and argued for rent control.
“They require 3 times the rent to be sure they easily raise it without a problem….” one commenter wrote.
“If you make 3xs the rent and you submit your work information they can see/assume that you’ll get a yearly raise,” another commenter wrote.
“They ask for 3x the rent so they can up your rent at any time,” a commenter wrote. “It’s 100% unethical.”
“We need rent control,” the top comment on Lumpkin’s video reads.
Several cities in Los Angeles recently enacted rent control after seeing price hikes in the double digits, according to the Los Angeles Times. And according to Governing, several other local governments—including in Massachusetts and Seattle—are considering rent control initiatives.