I sometimes wish I had the hassle-free lifestyle of a renter. For instance, right now I wouldn’t be on the hunt for a low-cost pressure washer. I wouldn’t have had to worry about the fussy furnace over the winter. And I would never have spent time trying to save on a roof replacement.
Yes, the joy of renting. But, renters don’t get off easy. For starters, there’s the ordeal of finding an apartment or house — and making sure you’re paying a fair price for it. There’s no worse feeling than getting ripped off. Summer is a hot time for apartment hunting.
Here are a couple of examples:
- Find out what others are paying. Rent-O-Meter is one of many online resources that will tell tenants if their rent is reasonable based on comparable properties in their city. Web sites such as Craigslist.org and newspaper classifieds are two places that tenants can find specific information about properties in their area. By searching these sites by zip code, a tenant can get a good idea of what the rent is of nearby properties. Neighbors are also a great source of information. They’ll know the insider deals, as well as any concessions the landlord typically gives.
- Consult the local tenants’ council. Many cities have a local tenants’ association or council that lobbies for tenant rights. They’ll have resources specific to their area, including information about rent increases and even mediation services should a tenant need them. Tenants will also be able to get first hand rental information about certain areas from experts.
- Know the trends. One of the oldest sources of online information about apartment living, ApartmentRatings.com, has a database of average rental rates for dozens of cities and towns in the United States. It’s called “What The Neighbors Pay.” Tenants can use this online resource to see if rents are falling or rising in their area. If the rent has been falling over the last few years in an area, that may be a good point to bring up during negotiations.
Question: Are you seeing many good deals on apartments or rental properties? How do you know if you’re paying a fair price?