First Person: Save Money on Your Next Apartment Lease

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I live in a city that has no rent control laws and a higher number of renters than there are apartments and houses to rent. In the last three years, the average rent price in my area has gone up by around $250. But I am not paying any more than I was three years ago, and I have moved twice. I keep my rent down by finding ways to save money before I even move in.

Here are my favorite ways to save on rent.

Comparison Shop

When I first moved to New Orleans several years ago, I found a neighborhood I liked and stuck with it, even though the rent was a little higher than I could afford. After a couple of years I was driving through a different neighborhood and saw a for rent sign. I called about it and the rent was $500 less than what I was currently paying.

Don't just assume rent prices are the same everywhere. Some neighborhoods, and even some apartment buildings, are far more affordable than others. Comparison shop before you decide on one area.

Barter

When I was viewing my current rental house, my landlord told me that she pays someone to come and cut the grass once a week. I asked if she would take $30 off the rent if I agreed to take care of the lawn myself. She agreed and I saved $360 in a year.

Many landlords offer convenience perks to try and draw in tenants, but that doesn't mean you have to accept the perk. If the landlord offers a service you can yourself (like lawn care) ask if she'll let you do it yourself for a rent discount.

Talk Terms

When I first moved to a new city, I wasn't familiar with the neighborhoods and didn't want to risk signing a long lease in an area I didn't like. So I rented an apartment with a six month lease for $950 a month. After the six months, I asked the landlord if he would lower the rent if I would sign a full year lease. He agreed to reduce my rent to $850 a month. Realizing how easy that was, I asked my next landlord if she would reduce the rent for a two year lease. She agreed and I got a $200 a month discount.

Most landlords want to keep tenants for as long as possible. If you're willing to stick around, they might be willing to cut you a deal.

*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.

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