It is no secret that the supply of apartments and homes for rent has not kept up with demand. Renters face steeply rising costs in places such as:
- San Francisco, CA- up 14.9%
- Seattle, WA- up 6.2%
- Los Angeles, CA- up 5.6%
Those numbers are shocking. There are, however, strategies you can use to lower your rent. Here are some great tips to keep more money in your pocket.
- Emphasize Good Credit (if you have it) – Even in the tightest housing markets, landlords want tenants who pay their bills promptly. If you have a high credit score, bring it up in negotiations. Stress that the landlord does not have to worry about a costly eviction with someone like you.
- Talk about a Long-Term Lease – There are costs to finding new tenants each year. If you really like the property, ask for a two year lease with lower monthly rent. The rental company avoids having to find a new tenant next year, and you do not have the hassle of searching for a new place.
- Pay Early and/or Upfront – If you saved 3 months’ rent, use it as a bargaining chip. Ask for a decrease in rent in exchange for that money upfront. Also, inquire about discounts if you pay before the first of the month. Your landlord might conclude that your proposal improves his or her cash flow.
- Aim for a Big Reduction- A $50 rent reduction ($600 off per year) might be completely acceptable to you. However, ask for more than the amount you want (i.e. $100 off/$1,200 savings). There are several reasons.
- Many negotiators feel that they have to “meet in the middle.” If you start out asking for $50 off your rent, the landlord is likely to counter with a $25 decrease in the rent. A more ambitious starting point gives you more flexibility in the negotiations.
- You just might get the higher amount. There is an old cliché that you do not get anything if you do not ask for it. You do not know what pressure the landlord is under to fill the vacancy with a paying tenant.
- Consider Living with Your Parents – You probably read that phrase and went, “What? No!!” Hear me out. In some extremely tight rental markets, it makes more financial sense to live with your parents and pay them a small amount of rent versus paying a lot of money for a cramped, hole-in-the-wall apartment. Besides, if you are not involved with anyone, you will want companionship.
- Get a Roommate – Even if your parents live in a fabulous location and it makes sense financially, you just might not be able to stomach living with them. Consider a roommate. A roommate helps with expenses and keeps you company.
Make sure you take steps to protect yourself. Screen any roommate carefully so you do not end up living with someone who is a threat to your safety. Also, do not have a landline in your name on the property. You do not want to get stuck with someone else’s phone bill.
Achieving Your Goals
If you win a rent reduction, congratulations. Remember to get every agreement in writing. You want to avoid any costly disputes.
Lower rent enables you to save for other goals such as a house or retirement. Even in a tight market, responsible, trustworthy tenants are not always plentiful. Make sure you try these strategies if the rent in your area is really high.