Worried About Your Rent Going Up? 3 Steps to Take Now

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Make these moves now if you fear a rent hike is coming up.

The great thing about renting a home rather than owning one is that your monthly housing costs are nice and predictable. When you own a home, there are numerous expenses outside of your mortgage you might grapple with, from property taxes to homeowners insurance to repairs. When you rent, you simply write your landlord a check every month and call it a day (though it is advisable to have renters insurance, too, but that's generally pretty affordable).

The problem with renting, however, is that your predictable monthly payments are only as good as the term of your lease. Once your lease expires, your landlord generally has the option to raise your rent.

Meanwhile, home values have soared over the past year, and property taxes have followed suit. That means your landlord may seek to pass some of those higher costs on to you in the form of a rent hike. If you have a lease that's ending soon and you're worried about being charged a higher monthly rate to renew it, here are some key moves to make.

1. Pad your savings as much as you can

Moving can be expensive, and it can also be a hassle, so if your rent goes up, you may not have the option to simply pack up your stuff and find a cheaper home. Plus, you may need to stay where you are to access certain amenities or to keep your kids in the same school district. In that situation, pumping more money into your savings account may be your best course of action. That way, you'll have the option to tap that money if your rent does increase and you find that it's difficult to manage your monthly expenses because of it.

2. Explore your options for moving

If you live alone and rent a small apartment, moving may not be such a costly prospect -- especially if you have a nice friend with a pickup truck who can help you move for free. If that's the case, it pays to research several rental options in case your lease renewal comes back with a higher number than you're comfortable paying.

3. Prepare to negotiate

Your landlord might seek to raise your rent when your lease comes up for renewal. But that doesn't mean you can't talk them out of it. Spend a little time putting together some talking points that make the case for keeping your rent as it is. You might, for example, try highlighting the fact that you've always paid your rent on time, there have never been any noise complaints stemming from your apartment, and you're a responsible tenant with a steady job. Remember, filling vacancies isn't always easy for landlords, and yours may not want to lose you. If you put together a compelling argument, you may be able to avoid a rent hike -- or at least get your landlord to implement only a modest increase.

The cost of owning property can rise over time, so it makes sense that landlords would pass at least some of that expense on to their tenants. But that doesn't mean you have to take a rent hike lying down. Instead, explore your options for moving and figure out ways to convince your landlord to keep your rent as-is. At the same time, be sure to funnel as much extra cash into your savings as possible so that if you do wind up with a higher rent payment, you'll have options for managing it more easily.

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