Legal to charge different rents for the same apartment unit?

Legal to charge different rents for the same apartment unit?

I'm currently renting a studio apartment in southern California, near but not in Los Angeles, while I'm going to school. Rent is $1175 (yes, it's awful. but I don't have to commute, utilities are included, and it's not much more than other apartments in the area), up from $1075 last year. Now I'm checking out the website for my building and it states that for new residents, studios are going for $859. I've tried looking up online if this is acceptable or even legal to do but don't seem to be using the correct search terms. I am not in a rent-controlled area. 1) Is it legal to charge $300 difference in rent to the exact same units? They all have the same floor plan and the only different between the units is what floor they're on. There's no reason given for charging $859. 2) I've already signed my lease for the year, it expires in 2010. I really don't want to move as I like the room and location. If I were to haggle well enough with my landlord, is it possible for her to change the rent even though I'm in this new lease? I think it would be, as I didn't start at the new rent until a month after signing my new lease, but I'm not sure. This is the only apartment I've ever rented so I'm a bit of a n00b when it comes to these things. 3) Tips for discussing it with her and standing my ground without being rude? She's a nice enough person, but I am never sure how to word myself when saying something like "Hey, why the hell are you charging these people $300 less than me when you already know I'm a good tenant? Lower my rent!" (This is not what I actually intend to say, lol.) Edit: Thanks everyone. I didn't really think it was illegal or that I would be able to change it, but, it's good to know rather than constantly wondering if I *could* change it. Sounds like probably not. Thanks! :)
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