What To Do If a Rent Increase Is Out of Your Budget

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Some rent increases cannot be remedied by working a side hustle or getting a part-time job. If a rent hike is too far out of pocket for a renter to afford, what can they do next? Renters can make the following strategic moves when faced with a high rent increase.

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Prepare To Negotiate

Landlords and management companies spend money when tenants change. Generally, most landlords want to retain good, reliable and respectful renters for as long as possible. 

As a renter, you may be able to negotiate a lease extension. Instead of signing a 12-month lease, renters can negotiate to extend the lease by 18 to 24 months in exchange for a lower monthly rental price. Ask to meet with your landlord or send an email to discuss meeting together to see where it’s possible to make accommodations.

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Check Your State’s Rent Stabilization Programs

Certain states, and cities and counties in these states, have rent control laws in place. 

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Check with your state of residence to see if there are statewide rent control caps or which cities and counties offer rent control programs. These will vary on a state-to-state basis. If you’re unsure of whom to get in touch with or how tenants are protected, reach out to a local housing authority or fair rent commission for additional guidance.

Explore Rental Market Options

A significant rent increase may mean it’s time to consider moving. Here are a few tips for finding affordable housing. 

  • Search rental housing websites. Start searching for apartments available to rent on Zillow, Rent.com and Apartment Finder. Use the available tools to modify your price range and see what’s available.
  • Don’t look just for apartments. You might be able to find, and rent, an affordable home, townhome or duplex. Keep an eye out for efficiency units, too. These units, often converted motel or hotel rooms with access to a common kitchen, are another inexpensive option for traditional housing for rent.
  • Do you qualify for a potential discount? You may be eligible for discounts or reduced rates from landlords if you are a veteran or senior. 
  • Walk through your neighborhood. Not all listings are posted online! Some landlords are returning to placing “for rent” signs in the front yards or windows of available units. If you spot one, note the contact name and phone number and reach out to get in touch.

Be Prepared To Apply For a New Place

If you find a great apartment, don’t assume you can keep the listing bookmarked for the next month or even the next couple of weeks. Available units get snapped up quickly in today’s competitive rental market, and renters facing a significant rent hike will not want to wait to apply for a new place. 

Prior to applying, whether it’s online or in-person, make sure you have all the necessary application materials. These will include your Social Security number or card for a credit and background check, a copy of your license or a government-issued ID, proof of income and employment, pay stubs, rental history with names and contact information for past landlords and funds for your application fee.

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About the Author

Heather Taylor is a senior finance writer for GOBankingRates. She is also the head writer and brand mascot enthusiast for PopIcon, Advertising Week’s blog dedicated to brand mascots. She has been published on HelloGiggles, Business Insider, The Story Exchange, Brit + Co, Thrive Global, and more media outlets. 

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