Inflation Has Hit Renters the Hardest. Here Are 8 Tips to Negotiating Your Rent That Actually Work

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  • The more data you can amass about rent for comparable properties, the better prepared you'll be to negotiate costs.
  • Offering to prepay a few months or stay for longer might save you money.
  • You can also focus on getting the smaller expenses of renting, such as pet fees, reduced or waived.

Think rent isn't a negotiable expense? Think again.

Inflation is making life more expensive for a lot of people, and those of us who rent homes are no exception. Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the Consumer Price Index Summary's most recent data shows an increase in housing costs of 6.2% over the last year. If you rent, and it's almost time to renew your lease (or find a new place to live altogether), you may be feeling a bit apprehensive about inflation's effects on your own situation. The good news is you might not have to settle for your landlord's offer. Here are some tips to help you negotiate your rent and related costs, and take some of the sting out of inflation.

1. Do your research

You might be looking for a new living situation or preparing to have a conversation with your current landlord about renewing your lease. Either way, it's a good idea to do some research beforehand so you know what average rent prices are in your area.

You can compare prices and amenities on sites like Zillow and ApartmentFinder. The more data you can amass, the better. If you can show your landlord that equivalent apartments or rental homes in your area rent for less, they may back down on proposed rent increases, or at least increase it less.

2. Consider the time of year

You may have more success negotiating rent and other housing costs in fall or winter, as many people move in spring and summer. You may be the only potential tenant looking to move into a property in say, February. If the landlord wants to get someone in sooner rather than later, they may be willing to drop the rent a little for you.

3. Give yourself time

The gift of timing can work out in your favor in another way as well. If you think your landlord won't agree to keep your rent at the same rate if you renew your lease, ask about a potential price increase when you still have a few months left on the old lease. This way, if you already know you'll be looking at a price hike if you stay, you'll have more time to find another place if you don't want to pay more.

4. Agree to different lease terms

Another approach to take when negotiating rent costs is to play with your lease terms. If you agree to stay in the home for longer than one year, maybe for 18 months or two years instead, you could manage to snag a lower rent payment.

Conversely, if you know you only need the home for six or eight months, and the landlord's only other option would be to let it stand empty during that time, they might cut you a break to have some rent payments coming in. This tactic may work especially well in areas with a lot of student housing (which often runs summer to summer) if you're trying to get into an empty rental at the end of the calendar year.

5. Make concessions

You can also try making concessions like forgoing a parking space (if you don't have a car), or agreeing to prepay rent for a certain number of months. Landlords hate having to collect late rent payments or worry they won't arrive at all. If you can prevent that headache for them, you may save money.

6. Offer to make repairs

This tactic will probably only work if you're renting from an individual, rather than a corporation, which will most likely have a repair person or property manager to take care of maintenance. But if you're handy around the house or have some construction skills, you could paint, do some landscaping, or make other upgrades or fixes to the property in exchange for money off your rent.

7. Focus on the extra fees and utilities

Maybe your landlord won't budge on the rental rate, but you could ask for a pet fee to be waived if you can show your pet is well trained and won't damage the property. Similarly, if your landlord requires you to cover the water bill or pay for internet, you could ask that these be included in the price of the rent.

8. Lean on your value

If you're already a known quantity for your landlord, you might be able to avoid a rent increase by pointing out your value as a tenant. Do you pay rent early every month? Are you a model renter (clean, quiet, and nondisruptive)? A smart landlord will want to hang onto a tenant like you, and they may just keep you at the same rent to keep someone who is reliable and easy to deal with.

As life gets more expensive, we've all got to do what we can to keep our finances in order. If you rent a home or apartment, try some of these tips to save some bucks on your housing costs. And if you're financially and emotionally ready to become a homeowner, this may be a good time to start making moves toward that. Homeownership is not necessarily the key to wealth, but it would leave you immune to future rent hikes.

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