Bartering for Better Rent

Because two major life changes (wedding, starting work here) aren’t enough, I’m moving at the end of the month. After growing up an Army brat, I am so over moving. But more than packing, cleaning, and moving 24 boxes of books up a flight of stairs to the new apartment, what I hate most about moving is paying all of those up front costs! Luckily our friends over at The Digerati Life, a personal finance blog, have some negotiating tips to keep those costs low.

As a renter, there are certain considerations you must take into account when getting into a new house or apartment. There are a few financial responsibilities such as the security deposit, first month’s rent, potentially last month’s rent as well as certain other fees like lawn care fees, maintenance fees, and so forth. And, all of these fees are due up front before you even get the keys, making moving a costly endeavor for most of us. So are there ways to save money on rent? Check out these tips.

Offer to Paint

One of the easiest ways to get a landlord to defer part or all of a security deposit is for you to offer to paint the place on your own dime. Having this type of agreement can leave a lot more room in your home budget, especially for living costs. I have offered to do this for many landlords with whom I’ve developed great relationships, and have had success much more often than I have been declined.

Most landlords will have to paint the house or apartment before they give the place up to a new tenant, and usually, rent is used to cover up the scuffs and scratches the previous tenants have left behind. This adds some considerable expense to the landlordís pocket AND extends the time it takes for him to get the place rented. But, if you offer to paint the place in lieu of paying a security deposit, odds are good that your landlord will take you up on the offer to expedite the process of getting things prepared for your move, plus you get the chance to personalize the place for free. Make sure that itís okay with the landlord that you use paint colors other than standard white before you start painting in technicolor or you may find yourself re-doing the work for free.

On the flipside of the rental arrangement, offering to paint when you move out of your old place may land you a few extra bucks in your pocket for the consideration, helping to defray any costs you incur during the move. This is especially useful if you have leftover paint from your previous move in process and the colors are agreeable to the landlord.

I have used both of these tactics successfully on more than one landlord and have found that they work better with privately held rental properties; however, commercial apartments and professionally managed houses are a little tougher to work with.

Offer to Maintain a Home

If you are handy with a screwdriver and can fix a leaky faucet or a running toilet, you may be able to trade out regular property maintenance and simple repairs for part of the monthly rent. If you are really good at what you do, you might be able to defray most if not all of your monthly rent by offering your services to the landlord for multiple properties, if he has them. You can increase your value to the landlord if you are willing to accept maintenance calls during all hours, meaning that you would be available for after hours emergencies as well as every day routine maintenance.

Offer to Landscape

In some cases, keeping the exterior of the home as lovely as the interior can be an expensive proposition for a landlord. Many times, the landlord will pass off the lawn service expense to the tenant in the form of higher rent or a separate monthly bill. You can easily offset this cost by offering to keep the lawn mowed and the flowerbeds mulched on your own. Of course, yard work may not be as glamorous as fluid master repair, but itís an easy way to keep your costs down. Plus, itís a really great way to add your own personal flair and curbside appeal to your rental place. Once again, you might be able to waive off part of your rent if you offer to work on the yards of other properties your landlord owns.

The main idea behind offering to maintain your house or lawn is to save money. If the repairs, improvements, or maintenance jobs cost more than the landlord is willing to give you consideration for, then it is simply not worth your time or your effort to do it. But, if your landlord is reasonable (and many of them are), you can actually perform the work to offset the rent you pay. It’s quite a great strategy to cut down on rental costs!

Kyle is the Editor of the PerkStreet Blog and works full-time on the PerkStreet team managing communications and public relations efforts in-house. As Editor, he writes alongside personal fiance bloggers from around the web who have also created great reputations for helping people learn valuable information about budgeting, fighting debt and saving money. His personal goal is to make sure that the articles on the PerkStreet Blog provide the most relevant, interesting and informative content about personal finance you'll find.Kyle is tasked with upholding the values of transparency, community and education that PerkStreet holds dear. You can find him on Twitter @KylePs80 or email him directly at kyle.psaty at perkstreet dot com. Interested in writing for the PerkStreet Blog? Have something you think the PerkStreet Blog should write about? Drop him a line any time.Below is Kyle's latest writing, but don't forget to visit the PerkStreet Blog Homepage to find the latest tips, news and insights in the world of personal finance from everyone who contributes to this online publication!

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