David Bakke is a columnist for Money Crashers Personal Finance, a top blog for topics related to budgeting, real estate, investing, and more.
Although you may view your monthly rent as a fixed expense, there are actually many ways to reduce the amount you pay for rent on your apartment. Since many Americans recently saw their paychecks reduced due to the expiration of the payroll tax holiday, now is the perfect time to get to work on decreasing expenses. Read on for ways to reduce your rental costs.
1. Choose Your Apartment Wisely
First, do your research. Regardless of your locale, rental prices vary widely. To cut down on the time you spend researching, utilize a website such as ForRent.com, which can refer you to some of the best deals on apartments in your area.
2. Question Rent Hikes
In some circumstances, you may be able to have the rental price increase waived. If you’ve lived in your apartment for years, present that as evidence that you do not deserve rent hike. Furthermore, if you’ve been an exemplary tenant – you’ve made timely payments and haven’t demanded too much of your landlord’s attention – you may be able to convince your landlord to make an exception and waive the additional cost.
3. Offer Your Services
If you have administrative talents, are bilingual, or are can assist with landscaping or minor home repairs, you may be able to get a break on rent by offering your services. Check with the property manager to see if he or she is in need of any assistance. If you can work out a trade for your services in exchange for a break on rent, it’s an excellent way to cut costs.
4. Increase the Term of Your Lease
By committing to a lengthy lease term, such as for two years, you may be able to save. Just be sure that the monthly rate is worth the dedication, as you may be taking a risk by not being able to move for an extended period of time. Also, be sure to inquire about early termination fees, should a job loss or other situation cause you to have to move out before the lease ends.
5. Get a Roommate
Having a roommate can cut your rent and utility costs significantly. However, be sure you are completely comfortable with this new living situation, as living with someone else leads to a significant shift in your everyday habits and lifestyle. If you decide it’s right for you, advertise your opening on Craigslist or Roommates.com. Put together a comprehensive set of interview questions, and do a background check for each person you consider. Once your roommate moves in, the savings will easily outweigh the expense of a background check, which normally costs around $50.
6. Inquire About a Referral Program
Your community may offer bonuses if you can successfully introduce a new tenant. In fact, some communities offer as much as $300. Get the word out to your family, friends, and coworkers, and you may be able to save. Just be sure to be upfront with your potential referrals regarding both the positive and negative aspects about where you live.
Before you sign any lease agreement, thoroughly review it. Reading through the fine print can be a pain, but it is worth your time. Look to see if any utilities or services are include in your rental payment (such as water or garbage pickup), and check to see if renter’s insurance or any annual due are required. You may think you’ve found a great deal, but if you sign a lease with terms you were unaware of, all the savings could be lost.
What other ways can you think of to save money on rent?