Save Money on Rent

Most of us are renters at some point in our lives, usually when we are first starting out – or perhaps in the seasons when our lives are changing.  Perhaps you don’t have enough money to get into your own house yet.  Perhaps you will only be in the area a short time and don’t want to invest the time in a house hunt.  Perhaps it is cheaper for you to rent than to buy. Whatever the reason causing you to rent, you most likely want the rent payment to be as reasonable as possible.

You can save money on rent, I know because we got rent reductions.

Here’s how we saved money on rent.

Years ago, we rented a unit in one of two quadruplex buildings owned by our landlord.  He was a lawyer and lived in a nearby duplex.  Our 2 bed unit was in a building with a central hallway and a basement.  There was a lot of common land around the units with a long sidewalk with steps leading up to each building.  We shared a common garbage dumpster area.

Our rent back then was (adjusted for inflation) around $550 – a big bite out of our $35,000 gross salary – especially when we were trying to save a down payment for a house, start a college fund for each of our two boys and pay off a loan we had.

To save some money, we asked the landlord if we could start a vegetable garden in the area outside our unit.  He agreed, so we did that.  We raised and canned vegetables for several years.  The landlord also let me pick some of the seeded concord grapes growing up the hill.  I made jelly from those.

My spouse liked to try to keep the grounds neat and the snow off the sidewalk.  When the landlord saw how industrious we were – on the gardening and keeping things neat and clean –  he offered us each a job, in return for a reduction in our rent.  We jumped at the chance.  I cleaned the hallways in both quadruplex buildings each week and hubby cleaned out the dumpster area after the trash truck came each week (with minor help from me).  We also kept the sidewalks snow free in the winter.

These tasks were a lot of work – and typically the work was not pleasant.  We were young and had the time, so it was OK. What if you don’t have the same opportunity we had?  How else can you save money while renting?

Trade Services for Rent Reductions

Be proactive if you want to try for a rent reduction in exchange for your services.  Remember that a reduction in rent can be better than getting an equivalent raise at work, due to the fact that the rent reduction won’t necessarily be taxed.

Review your situation and your landlord’s (or property manager’s) to picture the kinds of services they would likely need.  Also consider what you are willing to do and what percentage you think should be knocked off your rent for those tasks.  Then approach the landlord or manager with your suggestions to see if they are able or interested in negotiating with you.

Here are some ideas on services you could offer – to get you started:

  • Referrals – Perhaps you have a large network of potential renters and can provide referrals to the landlord for a one time rent reduction for each referral.
  • Ground’s maintenance – If you have the time and enjoy gardening, lawncare, snow removal and etc – providing grounds maintenance services could be a way to gain a significant reduction in rental rates.
  • Window washing – Trade washing the outdoor windows once every few months for a reduction in rent for the month you wash them.
  • Handy man – For a continuing rent reduction, offer to be the go to person for the rest of the tenants when things go bong in the night.  This is one of the most hated landlording tasks and should be worth some hefty reductions.  Caution:  you must know who to call or how to fix and be willing to be available at all times to assist the renters.
  • Pieces of property management – Perhaps you are good at marketing, can develop and maintain a website or blog, can answer the phone or show prospective renters through the units or provide other services related to managing the rental property.  Turn these skills into rent reduction.
  • Pool maintenance – If your complex has a pool, someone has to maintain it – it could be you and it could mean savings on your rent

What tips can you offer on saving money on the rent?  Have you ever traded your services for rent reductions?

This post was written by Marie.


Save Money on Rent — 28 Comments

  1. I dont know if this is really a tip but when we were looking to get an apartment we actually found a realtor. It may seem weird but we actually saved 200$ per month on rent. I had called the rental office two month prior and the price they give me was two more then the realtor quote for a larger unit. I think offering services is a great way to lower rent. I doubt though at most apts they will allow any gardens.

  2. I definitely like the idea of trading services for rent reduction. I recently did this when I replaced the garbage disposal in my unit and got the landlord to pay me for my labor. I made $80 for a few hours of work, and she was happy not to have to get a plumber to come in, too. WIN-WIN!

  3. Great information! Here’s another tip … if you’ve been in a place for awhile (for the entire term of a lease, usually one year) & have been a good tenant (paying rent on time, following rules, etc.), it’s in the landlord’s best interest to keep you there. So when it’s time to renew the lease (a time when landlords typically raise the rent), ask if the rent can remain the same or even be lowered. The worst that can happen is that they say no but in my experience, they are typically willing to work with you.

  4. It is great you got to save money on rent and on groceries by planting a garden. We live in an apartment complex, unfortunately, we have not found a way to reduce our rent yet. If we had a landlord we could negotiate I guess, we are going to try anyway (our lease is up for renewal and we have been here for 3 years). But this place is high demand complex, so I am not hoping much.

  5. Trading rent for work is one of the best ways to reduce costs. Did this in several places. Raising a garden is another idea I was able to do in the last three places I’ve lived.

    Actually, being a maintenance guy for the building has potential – I turned a reference from the landlord into a small yard and maintenance business.

  6. That’s great! As a landlord to our basement suite I would be appreciative if our tenants would help us.

    I’m getting our tenants to pick up the mail, while we’re gone for a week, I wonder if they’ll need a rent reduction? What do you think>

  7. I’d personally rather spend a little more to make sure that I will be getting high quality items which will

    Here is my website – 5 great ways

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