Struggling to Find Affordable Rent? Tips to Help
- Sarah HallBy
October 23, 2017
- Leave a comment
Feel like affordable rent is out of reach? You’re not alone.
A recent study, conducted by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, revealed that more than 60 percent of renters don’t earn enough money to afford monthly payments on the median-priced home in their area. Affordable, according to the study, means that payments can’t be more than 36 percent of a household’s monthly income.
And it’s likely gotten even trickier for many to pay for rent. In 2017, rent prices have increased monthly since January, according to Apartment List’s National Rent Report. Cities such as Reno, Nevada, Sacramento, Calif., Arlington, Texas, and Providence, Rhode Island, have some of the fastest growing rents in the country. The report, however, did have a bit of good news: Rent growth may be slowing down.
Still, renters often are faced with sticker shock when they look for a new place to live or when they sign on for another year -- and realize just how much the rent will increase.
Tips to Help with Affordable Rent
There are ways for renters to cope with increasing monthly payments. Here are five:
- Find out if you’re actually paying too much: You can ask your neighbors, of course, but there also are online tools to help you ferret out the information. Rentometer.com is a free website where you can simply key in your address, the number of bedrooms and your monthly payment to see how it compares to similar homes in your neighborhood. If you’re paying more than the average, it might be time to start looking for cheaper digs.
- Talk to your landlord about lowering the rent: It won’t be an easy conversation, but, in some cases, landlords do lower rent. To move them in the right direction, Realtor.com has some suggestions, including pointing out needed repairs, citing statistics on, for instance rental vacancies in the area, and demonstrating you’re a good tenant. You also could offer to make improvements to the property at no cost to your landlord in exchange for lower rent.
- Negotiate for a longer lease to avoid that annual increase: Finding a new tenant can be a costly hassle for landlords. To prepare the apartment, landlords might pay for a new coat of paint or carpet. They might pay to advertise the vacancy. And, if the apartment isn’t immediately rented, they may go for a month or more without a tenant and that rent check. A long-term lease can be an attractive way for a tenant and landlord to save money. The landlord would agree to a lower payment or to keep rent steady for a period of time. The tenant would agree to live in the home for longer than the usual year.
- Look for help: Federal and state agencies offer rent assistance for many, but they aren’t the only groups to offer aid. Nonprofits and churches across the country also extend assistance to those in need. RentAssistance.us offers information about other groups that help those who have trouble covering their monthly rent payments.
- Find a roommate: It’s not an option for everybody -- and you’ll need to check the provisions in your lease if you want to stay put. Filling that second bedroom with a roommate, however, could cut your rent payments in half.
Depending on where you live, it may not be easy to decrease that monthly check to the landlord. But arming yourself with a lot of information and a little gumption and initiative could help make affordable rent more of a reality.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, non-profit credit counseling can help you make sense of all your options. Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.