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.