Why is My Rent So High? (Low Income Apartments)

If you live in a low income building, your rent is supposed to be very low. But sometimes it’s not! If your rent feels too high, here are some possible reasons and possible solutions.

Minimum Rent

Reason: Some housing programs charge a minimum rent – often $25 or $50. This means that even if you have $0 income, you may still be charged a minimum, or it may be deducted from your utility allowance.

Solution: In some cases, you can request a hardship exemption: Letter Requesting No Minimum Rent

Wrong Kind of Building

Reason: Some low income buildings are not fully subsidized. They are not as cheap as subsidized apartments. These kind of buildings might be called “low income tax credit” or “income restricted” or “affordable housing.” Learn more: Help! I’m Too Poor for Low Income Housing.

Solution: Move to a different building that has subsidized apartments. Or, if some apartments at your current building are subsidized, get on the waiting list to transfer to one of the subsidized apartments. Here’s where you can find places to look: How to Find Super Cheap Housing WITHOUT a Housing Voucher

Someone Moved Out

Reason: If someone in your family moves out, this may mean that your voucher decreased bedroom size. look at your phone voucher and see how many bedrooms are listed there and compare it to how many bedrooms are in your house. This can cause your rent payment to raise.

Solution: Ideas are on this page:Why Did My Bedrooms Change?

You have the wrong number of bedrooms

Reason: If number of bedrooms on your voucher is lower than the number of bedrooms in your house, this can cause your portion of rent to be higher. One common way that this happens is that a housing authority may change their policy on number of bedrooms and number of people. You may not even realize it happened. Check your current voucher to see how many bedrooms you are approved for

Solution: Ideas are on this page: What Makes Bedrooms Go Up or Down? and this page: Why Did My Bedrooms Change?

They didn’t change your income

Reason: If your income went down, your rent payment should go down. If they made a mistake and didn’t change it, or didn’t change it enough, you might be paying too much rent.

Solution: Some ideas are on this page: Letter if Your Income Lowers and Your Housing Worker Refuses to Lower Rent

You have a voucher

If you have a housing voucher, there are some other reasons your rent might be high. Take a look here: Why is My Rent So High? (Housing Vouchers)

Everything is OK

It’s also possible that there’s nothing wrong with your rent. Here’s where you can figure out the formula for how your rent is supposed to be calculated: How is My Rent Calculated?

There are also some special rules and regulations you can use to lower your rent: How to Calculate (and sometimes lower) Rent

Think They Made a Mistake?

If you want more details on how your rent was calculated, try requesting a copy of your Family Report. Some Housing Authorities will automatically send this to you each year.

If you think there is a problem, you can ask your worker to meet with you to go over the numbers. Or you can email your worker and state what you think may be incorrect.

You also have the right to appeal if you think your rent is wrong. You can write or email your worker and/or their supervisor stating that you would like to appeal your rent decision and (ideally) write down where you think a mistake was made.

If your income changes, you don’t have to appeal. Just contact your worker and say “I’ve had a change in income and I’d like to request a redetermination on my rent.”

If you continue to have problems: How to Get Help or File Complaints for Housing Problems

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