How to Handle a Rent Hike

Take a look at most major cities throughout America, and you’ll encounter at least one constant that’s impossible to ignore—rising housing costs. I know that when I saw my rent move from $900 to $1150 for a one bedroom apartment years ago, it was time to reevaluate things. For many people in their 20s and 30s, paying rent on time each month can be challenging enough even when costs are relatively low. When an unexpected increase comes down the pike, it can seem nearly impossible to manage.

So, how exactly should you approach a rent hike without significantly changing your quality of life? Here are just a few tips to steer you in the right direction.

1. Negotiate

There’s no getting around the fact that rent hikes are a part of life. This being said, it’s not uncommon for landlords to go a bit overboard when it comes to raising rents—especially if the neighborhood in question is particularly “hot.” If you’re presented with a major rent hike, be sure to reason with your landlord before accepting it verbatim by explaining how it will affect your financial situation. Chances are, you may be able to save a few hundred dollars simply by laying on a bit of charm.

2. Stop going out to dinner

Everyone enjoys going out for a nice meal, but dining out regularly can be an expensive endeavor. Cooking meals at home not only allows you to save money, but it’s also one of the best ways to ensure you’re eating a healthy diet on a regular basis. If your rent hike is in the neighborhood of, say, $150/month, consider trying to spend $150 less than usual on meals out each month. It may mean cutting out a few fancy meals, but the upside is that you won’t have to worry about moving or losing the apartment you love.

3. Ensure it never happens again

You’ve accepted the fact that your rent is going to be higher than it has been in the past and have adjusted your lifestyle as a result. But what if it happens again? At some point, you’ll be unable to afford to pay rent without making big sacrifices. One thing you can do is talk to your landlord about coming to a compromise — if you plan on staying for a while, perhaps you could negotiate a certain number of years without increase. Throughout the whole process, be sure to familiarize yourself with applicable laws, protections and terms (“rent-controlled,” for example) to avoid being taken advantage of.

4. Consider moving

If all else fails, and you feel the additional cash required isn’t worth paying, it may be time to move out. Moving to a new apartment doesn’t have to be as stressful or miserable as it sounds, as long it’s still worth it after you account for moving costs, and broker and application fees. With the right amount of planning, it can lead to a much better living (and cheaper!) experience. After all, you don’t want to rent from someone who won’t budge even slightly on a rent hike—and the future will likely be a repeat of the past.

So, don’t just assume that a rent hike means you need to sacrifice life and limb to stay at your current location. Manage the situation appropriately, and it will likely play out as successfully as mine did years ago—when I decided to move!

Originally published on April 24, 2018.

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Erik Neilson is a professional writer and editor based in Portland, ME. With nine years of experience and a broad, diverse background, he provides written content to agencies, organizations and print/digital media outlets. In his spare time, Erik enjoys cooking for friends and family, sharpening his photography skills and performing his original music in a live setting.