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Hit with a rent hike? Here are some things you can do

60% of renters facing rent hikes this year
For Rent Sign
Posted at 6:00 AM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-24 09:50:44-04

Rents have been soaring in 2022, whether you are in an apartment or rental home.

After two years without raising rents, many landlords are now making up for it (and their higher costs) by raising rent 10% or more when leases come up.

Other than moving to a new place, however, the sad truth is there's little you can do about rising rent prices.

Stephanie Blanchard could soon have no place to live.

The mom of three children says she's desperate after her landlord decided to raise her low-income apartment rent to "market rate" which means a $600 rent hike she can't possibly afford.

"I'm gonna be honest. I just can't stay here," she said.

She says every other 2-bedroom apartment near her is renting for $1,300 or more.

"This one is $1,650, she said," pointing to a house for rent. "I could not afford that," she said.

Stephanie Blanchard
Stephanie Blanchard, facing $600 rent hike

She's not alone. A recent Freddie Mac survey found rent increased for nearly 60 percent of renters in the past year with a third seeing increases of ten percent or more.

What you can do

Fighting a rent hike can be almost impossible. The problem: Rent is rarely negotiable, and most communities have no laws limiting rent hikes.

That means you may need to take a hard look at your spending elsewhere unless you substantially downsize (to a studio apartment, for instance, or by taking on a new roommate).

Kelsey Sheehy with Nerdwallet.com says start by checking your checking account.

"You might find things you forgot you were paying for," she said. "Those are easy wins."

She says you should eliminate unused subscriptions or streaming TV services and shop around the bills you can control, such as car insurance.

Need to move? Before you tell the landlord you are moving out, double-check your lease, and see if it says anything about how much the rent can go up at the end of the year.

If you have decided to search for a new, cheaper apartment:

  • Is there a washer and dryer so that you can avoid laundromat expenses?
  • Is there an on-site gym so you can ditch a gym membership?
  • Do you have to pay for some utilities you did not have to pay for before (such as water)? If so, that could make the new apartment more expensive than the old one.

But Sheehy warns that even a cheaper apartment doesn't mean you will spend less.

"Moving to a different town or neighborhood might lead to cheaper rents," she said. "but it could also increase your commuting costs."

Also, if your new apartment requires you to park in the street, think hard about the risk your car will be sideswiped or damaged at some point, which will cost hundreds of dollars to fix.

She says convincing a landlord to lower your rent is very tough.

However, if you're handy, Sheehy says some landlords will give you a discount if you can help around the building.

"Maybe you mow the lawn or take care of small maintenance requests in the building," she said. "That helps save them money, and they might pass those savings down to you."

Stephanie Blanchard just wants something affordable before she ends up out on the street and homeless.

"I feel I was begging family and friends," she said. "I don't want to live like that."

But she and so many other renters these days may have to settle for a much smaller place so you don't waste your money.

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