by Maurie Backman | Published on Oct. 16, 2021
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Rising rent can wreck your budget. Here's what to do if your housing costs keep climbing.
Inflation has been making the cost of living rise exponentially, forcing consumers to pay more for everything from groceries to gasoline. But it's not just those expenses that are increasing; rent prices are also soaring. That's not due to inflation so much as general demand.
In July, multifamily rents (meaning rents in buildings with multiple units) increased 10.3% from the previous year, according to the latest Yardi Matrix Multifamily Report. Those costs are now sitting at $1,539 on average.
In smaller cities, rent may be averaging lower, while it's much higher in major metro areas like New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area. But on a whole, rent costs are higher than they've been in recent years, and that could be hurting a lot of tenants' wallets.
If you're having a hard time grappling with a rent increase, here are a few moves worth making.
Reminding your landlord that you're a great tenant who's quiet and clean -- and pays rent on time -- could help you avoid a major increase. It never hurts to negotiate when your landlord tries to jack up your rent.
That said, landlords are facing higher costs, too. Real estate taxes are going up as property values increase, and it's getting more expensive to maintain rental units and pay for utilities. Plus, many landlords have gone many months without collecting rent due to the eviction ban that was in place for much of the pandemic. As such, your landlord may not agree to not raise your rent at all -- but you might settle on a compromise, such as a $40 monthly increase instead of $70.
If your rent is rising and you don't want to move (or can't move), you may have to cut back on other expenses to compensate. Take a look at your budget and see which spending categories will be the easiest to reduce.
You may not have much wiggle room to cut back on gas, for example, if you drive often to get to work and run errands. But you may be able to downgrade your cable plan and order takeout less frequently.
Putting in a few extra hours of work every week could make it easier to handle a rent increase without having to dip into your savings or, worse yet, rack up debt. These days, there are plenty of side hustles to choose from. If you want a flexible gig, driving for a rideshare company could be a good bet, as you can set your own hours and pick up passengers when it's convenient for you.
On the other hand, many businesses have been struggling to hire this year. So if you're willing to commit to a preset schedule on evenings and weekends, it pays to see if a local restaurant or supermarket needs extra workers.
Rent increases are never fun -- especially not when inflation is making everything more expensive. If you're facing higher housing costs, try negotiating. And if that fails, look at reducing your spending where you can and picking up some work on the side. You can also explore your option for finding a more affordable home, but that could take a while. In the meantime, these suggestions might tide you over while you do your research and see what other rentals are out there.
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