As most of you know, we seriously considered breaking our lease to rent out my “dream home” in my dream neighborhood. While money was an important factor, it wasn’t the deciding factor (though it very well could have been). Turns out the house backs up to a major highway. Huge bummer!! While the leasing agent said it was “white noise” and that it wasn’t that noticeable, I would have gone crazy living there. I’m already the world’s lightest sleeper so there was just no way I would ever live near a highway or major road. As a mom of a toddler and a baby, peace and quiet is just too precious to me!!
But, this whole process got me thinking on ways you can save money on rent. I actually had written out a contract for that house had we decided to move forward with an offer (this was prior to seeing it).
How to save money on rent
First of all, I will say it’s a tad bit harder to save money on rent if you’re leasing from an apartment complex or a large property management company. Even though I had a list of very valid reasons as to why we should not pay the asking rate on that house, the leasing agent told me the company refuses to lower the price until it’s been listed at least two weeks. Had I wanted the house, we would have moved forward with the lower offer because even though it was a large property management company, you never really know (also, the previous tenants broke their lease so the company may have been more willing to negotiate).
Sign a longer or shorter lease
If the home is listed for $1500/month for a 12-month lease, ask if you can get a discounted rate if you sign a shorter or longer lease. I know what you’re thinking – why would they want you to sign a shorter lease? Well, the most popular months for leasing are typically late spring through summer. Kids are out of school and people have more time to move out of their old place and into their new one. Winter months are typically the worst time. Who wants to move over the holidays?! So, if you sign a lease starting in August, you could offer to sign a 10-month lease at a discounted rate so the owner could re-list the house in June, a primary time for finding renters.
Trade your services for a discount
My husband owns a painting and handyman company so when we go to rent our next house, we’re going to offer to perform general maintenance around the house, fix minor repairs and leave the house in the exact condition we arrived in, all for a discounted price. If you’re not a handyman (or in my case, married to one), you could offer to design a website for them or market the property once your lease is about to expire.
Rent the smallest space that you need
Do you really need to be renting the largest house on the block or the biggest unit in the apartment complex? Assuming you will only be living there short-term, it’s best to rent the smallest amount of space possible so you can save money for when you go to purchase a home. The kitchen in our current rental is laughable small, but you know what? That’s ok! I’d rather save money and have an awesome kitchen down the road than sacrifice now for a large, but temporary, kitchen.
Ask for a discount
No matter what – whether you are renting from a company or from a private renter – ask for a discount! The worst that will happen is they will say no, but there’s a chance you will get some sort of discount. In my situation, we have two pets which is an additional $25 per month. One dog is $15 a month and the second dog is $10 a month. I asked if we could pay only $15 extra per month since the dogs are small, and sure enough the apartment complex agreed! I realize it’s only a $10 per month savings, but every bit helps.
Keep the rental in tip-top condition
You want your deposit back, right? While I’ve never received an entire deposit back, I sure try as hard as I can to get the most money back possible. Our deposit here was $1,000 and I make sure to vacuum the carpets at least twice a week, steam clean once every few months, I don’t allow the kids to eat food anywhere other than the kitchen and the bathroom and appliances are cleaned regularly. Not only with this hopefully ensure I get the largest amount possible back, it also will make it easy when we move out since we kept the place up!
Get a roommate
Assuming your landlord is OK with this, you could consider getting a roommate to save money on rent. For me, this would never work as I can’t imagine someone willingly wanting to live with a 2 and a 1 year old, haha, but if you just so happen to have a place with an extra bedroom, it’s definitely worth considering.
Look at homes for sale that have been on the market for a while
This is something we plan on doing when our lease is up here. We want to move to a house instead of the apartment and I plan on looking at houses that are for sale that have been listed for 6 months or more. The owner may be moved out already and is possibly paying the old mortgage in addition to their new mortgage, so they may be delighted at the thought of renting it out for the time being. Again – this is where you have to negotiate and ask for what you want!
Do you currently rent your home? Any tips on how to save money?!
Asking for a discount is a great tip because many times they will not tell you until you ask. Magazines like ForRent have coupons, and some websites offer a discount or one time check if you mention their name as referral.
Thanks for these great tips, Sarah!