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Consider a scenario where a room is rented in a house with little or no formal contract obligation (one month notice on either side) and it is month-to-month. The renter is basically a guest who pays rent and can leave at any time but the landlord can kick them out whenever (s)he wants too.

If the verbal agreements stipulates a one month notice for departure on either side, can the landlord legally increase the rent effective one month from the notice so that the tenant still has another month at the old rent to look for another place to live if they don't like the new rent?

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The specifics will depend somewhat on locale, since cities can have various ordinances. In general, a month-to-month lease means that the lease doesn't bind either party beyond the current month. The lease may contain advance-notice requirements (usually not more than 30 days), and there can be local statutory requirements. For instance, in Seattle, 20 days advance notice is required to terminate an agreement (that is, such agreements are self-renewing). Rules and rent can change with 30 days written notice.

Now, actually, a landlord can't kick out a tenant whenever they want, nor can a tenant take a hike on the spur of the moment. This is where statutory law becomes rather important, because even if you don't have a written agreement, state landlord-tenant laws and local ordinances will prevent either party from just acting willy-nilly. If there is a verbal agreement calling for 30 days notice of a rent increase, that will probably be consistent with state and local law, unless there's something special about the city (such as rent-control laws).

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