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How to get cheaper rent

Use these tips to lower your rent — or save up for a new place if your landlord won’t budge.

Rent is typically your largest monthly expense, so it makes sense to cut these costs as much as possible. Here are four tips on how to get cheaper rent with your landlord, along with tips on how to budget for a new apartment.

1. Research

The first thing you’ll want to do is study up on rent prices in your area. It’s difficult to negotiate cheaper rent with your landlord if you haven’t done your research on how much comparable places are going for in your area.

Research apartment market trends. Are apartments hard to come by? Or are there tons of vacancies in your area? If the market is slow, your landlord may be more flexible with rent prices especially if they could have trouble finding a new tenant if you left.

2. Prepare to negotiate

When you’re preparing to negotiate, focus on the value you bring to the table. Here are some items you can include in your negotiation:

The value you offer as a tenant. Now’s the time to toot your horn and talk about why you’re a good tenant. Maybe you pay your rent on time and in full each month, you don’t disturb the neighbors or you always fix basic repairs yourself.
A list of comparable places in your area. Talk about how you’ve researched rent prices in your neighborhood and have seen a slight reduction in rent. Share examples to back up your claims.

The benefit of having you stay. Mention how your landlord won’t have to go through the hassle of filling a vacant apartment, scanning new tenants and potentially losing out on rental income if you stay.

Offer an incentive. Lastly, discuss what you’ll give your landlord in exchange for cheaper rent.

3. Contact your landlord

Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to negotiate a rent reduction at your current place. There are several ways you can contact your landlord:

  • In person. If possible, see if you can meet with your landlord in person. It’s much harder for them to say no when you’re sitting in front of them.
  • By phone. If you’re unable to meet in person, try to schedule a time to call your landlord ahead of time.
  • By email. Write a formal letter to your landlord.

4. Shop for a new apartment with lower rent

If your landlord won’t budge on price, consider shopping for a new apartment with lower rent. Don’t be afraid to look at other neighborhoods in your city that may give you more bang for your buck.

Once you find a place, use negotiating tips to see if you can save some money. Consider bringing in a roommate or renting a spare room on Airbnb to help cut down on costs.

Can I get evicted if I can’t pay my rent?

It depends on your state or city laws. An eviction moratorium order can protect you from eviction if you can’t pay your rent. Some may even prevent landlords from charging you a late penalty fee. This order can be implemented on the city, state or federal level. But that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Your total amount due continues to accumulate and landlords can evict you for nonpayment as soon as the eviction moratorium expires.

The second $900 billion stimulus package has extended the nationwide eviction moratorium to January 31. In addition, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has also extended its foreclosure and eviction moratorium on mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through the end of January.

Americans will see $25 billion in rental assistance with the second stimulus. These funds would be directed to families earning 50% or below the area’s median income and help provide up to 18 months of back rent.

How to budget for a new apartment

When budgeting for a new apartment, keep these tips in mind:

  • Find out what’s included in the rent price. Review what’s included in the listing. Some apartments include common expenses in the price, such as heat and water.
  • Factor in monthly expenses. Once you’ve figured out what’s included in the base price, factor in any extra monthly expenses, including pet fees, yard maintenance, utilities, parking costs, laundry usage fees, etc.
  • Don’t forget about one-off expenses. Moving to a new place often means paying a security deposit, one month’s rent, moving fees and renter’s insurance.
  • Determine your affordability. As a general rule of thumb, your rent shouldn’t be more than 20% to 30% of your income. If you make $3,500 a month, your rent should be $1,050 at the very most. If you’re having trouble budgeting, consider a budgeting app to help you analyze your income and expenses.

Compare budgeting apps

Get a jump start on budgeting for your new apartment with these popular budgeting apps. Use the table to sort each app by monthly fees, service fees and more.

Name Product Fee Service fee Platforms
Chime Spending account
When you use your Chime card, Chime rounds up your purchase to the nearest dollar and transfers the rounded amount to your Chime Savings account. Plus, you can opt in to automatically transfer 10% of each paycheck into savings.
Digit savings is a microsavings app that helps you avoid overdrafts and passively set aside cash for short-term goals.
Free or a 6-month subscription of $53.94 or annual subscription of $83.88 for the Premium package
Secure a Brighter financial future
Trim analyzes spending and offers personalized advice to help you reach your goals.
Tiller Money
Use Tiller Money to automate your budgeting spreadsheets and pay off debt.

Compare up to 4 providers

Average cost of rent by city

Average rent prices vary wildly depending on what city and state you live in. Use this table to compare average rent costs by the top 10 most expensive cities in the US from 2014 to 2020.

Boston, MA2170221923192412247525432625
Honolulu, HI1718197420312044208321172151
Los Angeles, CA1852201821642280238224772568
Miami, FL1641171318061840187119201973
New York City, NY2378248325892634264126962768
San Diego, CA1708185219612064217222602340
San Francisco, CA2199260928762930302431333227
San Jose, CA259128572871297330813179
Seattle, WA1418154116561783186219212037
Washington, D.C.1933198120272053207221162178

Bottom line

There are several ways to negotiate a cheaper payment, whether it’s at your current place or new one. And if your landlord doesn’t budge, make sure to check your budget if you decide to move out.

If you’re having trouble budgeting for an apartment, consider a budgeting app. Most are packed full of features to help you set savings goals, trim down expenses and prepare for the unknown.

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