How to avoid a rent increase
Landlords love keeping good tenants and avoiding the time, hassle and expense of finding new ones. But they have bills to pay, too, and investors to please. As a result, rents go up. It’s an inevitable fact of life. For you, the renter, we’ve compiled a list of tips that could help you maintain your rent as you extend your lease for another year.
- Multi-year lease. Of course, this depends on your lifestyle at the present moment. If you know you want to and can stay put for a couple of years and you really love the apartment you’ve found, talk to your landlord about a long lease to cover the time there. Start with a two-year lease—it will lock in a price you are comfortable with, and ask for no price jump after the first twelve months.
- Research the market. If/when your landlord announces you he wants to raise the rent, research the market and let him know how high your apartment ranks in relation with others in the area. Chances are that you can get to negotiate and settle for a price you know you are comfortable with before you move on to find a more affordable place.
- Know your rights. Laws differ from one state to another so make sure you know what your landlord is can do legally. Increasing rent more than once a year is something you might want to look into as well as into increasing it above a certain percentage of your current rent, or not giving you enough notice before the increase takes effect.
- Make an offer. Certainly there are things you can do to reduce your landlord’s costs and this will contribute to making you a more desirable and valuable tenant. You could offer to make small improvements to your apartment or building instead. If you can help the landlord save time and money he would spend on finding someone else to do these things, you might get to keep the same rent amount for another year.
- Make referrals. If you find out about a vacancy coming to your building, spread the word among your friends and colleagues. If the apartment rents thanks to your referral, the landlord will see you as a valuable resource and likely want to keep you around for another twelve months.
- Ask your neighbors. If you dare, ask them about their rent rates. If you discover that one of them is paying $200 less than you are, it’s a good piece of information to have in your possession. You might even find out that one of them is moving out soon, and you can ask to move into their apartment for a lower rate. If your landlord can rent your current space for more money, chances are they will gladly take the offer.
- Be the best tenant you can be. Paying your rent on time, not requesting absurd changes to your apartment, being generally nice, contribute to making you an attractive tenant. The reverse is obviously applicable—if your landlord sees that you can’t change your own light bulbs without calling maintenance or constantly demand upgrades, your chances of keeping the same rate amount from one year to the next drop significantly.
- Be human. If you are having financial problems, be real; call your landlord and ask them to reconsider—especially if it’s a real person versus a corporation, who owns your building. Don’t think that all landlords are mean – if they’re aware of your situation, they’ll be more human in return.
It’s good to remember that not all rents are created equal—apartment rates in high-priced San Francisco are very different from those in Albuquerque, where rental housing is plentiful and inexpensive. Moreover, sometimes increases in taxes and utilities make rent hike necessary and justifiable. Do you have any successful tactics you used that you’d care to share with us?