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.
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.
Sign a long-term lease. If you know you’ll stay put for a while, see if you can extend your 12-month lease into an 18- or 24-month lease. That way your landlord knows they won’t have to worry about finding a new tenant for a while.
Pay rent before the first of the month. If you’re renting a place from an individual instead of a corporation, they may be using your rent payment to pay their own mortgage. Offer to pay them before the first of every month, so they’re guaranteed to have money on hand when their payment is due.
Give up some amenities. Have a parking spot you don’t need? Offer it up to your landlord to give to another tenant in exchange for cheaper rent.
Do chores around the complex. Offer to collect recycling bins, maintain the lawn or even fix basic repairs around the property if you’re handy.
Pay a few months’ rent in advance. If your budget allows, your landlord might offer you a discount in exchange for paying a few months rent upfront.
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.
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.
Frequently asked questions
Winter is generally the best time to negotiate cheaper rent or look for a new apartment, according to a study by RentHop. Vacancy rates are higher, so landlords lower rent prices to attract tenants.
The study found that most people save 3.4% on average by getting an apartment between December and March versus May to October, but it varies by location.
It depends. Some apartments can seem more expensive upfront because they often come with amenities such as a community pool, an onsite gym and a game room. Luxury apartments take it a step further with dedicated workspaces, onsite dry cleaning and meal services.
A house, on the other hand, doesn’t come with any of these amenities. It may look cheaper at first, but it could get more expensive by the time you factor in utilities.
It usually depends on the location of the apartment inside the building. You’ll pay more to have an apartment on a higher floor or with a nicer view.
It’s hard to say. Traditionally, rent prices tend to spike up during the summer months due to demand. But with the coronavirus pandemic, some economists predict that pricing will stay stagnant or slightly decline until the economy picks back up.
Cassidy Horton is a writer for Finder, specializing in banking and kids’ debit cards. She’s been featured on Legal Zoom, MSN, and Consolidated Credit and has a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia Southern University. When not writing, you can find her exploring the Pacific Northwest and watching endless reruns of The Office.
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