About 9 months or so later, you receive a rent increase notice that deceptively appears to be a legal document issued by the city government. The notice claims that your current monthly rent is $1,000+ more than what you’ve actually been paying. It states that your new rent will be even higher than that – for example, $1,100 more per month than what you now pay. It isn't unusual for a corporate landlord to claim that your current "rent" for a moderate one-bedroom apartment is well over $3,000 per month as shown in these redacted real-life examples.

Being a reasonable person, you assume this must be legal because the form appears to come from the city. However, its not. The form actually was filled out by the landlord, and the city doesn't even check the numbers.

You realize now that last year the leasing agent had tricked you into signing a lease with an absurdly high amount listed as the "rent." It was not a formality as was claimed -- it's what your landlord will now demand that you pay in full, no concession, plus an additional increase, if you do not sign another 12-month lease. You've been trapped.

You meet with the leasing agent to plead for a better deal. He says not to worry because he can offer you another “concession.” But this time it’s smaller than before. He offers a new rent that is $250 more per month than what you’re currently paying. This far exceeds the maximum legal increase, which depending on the rate of inflation should be in the ballpark of $50 per month.

The agent says that she can only offer you this deal if you sign a new lease. The lease will list an even higher “rent” than last time. The agent says not to worry –you’ll get another big “concession” next year.

NEXT: The high cost