With mortgages being increasingly difficult to obtain, more people are renting, and those who are renting are staying renters for longer periods of time.
As demand for rental homes all over Atlanta continues to increase, rent prices are climbing. It’s no wonder people believe their rent payments are too expensive.
Research shows if you’re paying over $1,000 a month for rent, you would most likely be paying much less if you were buying the home you live in. While it’s easy to focus on the numbers, how do you really know if you’re paying too much?
Here are four quick ways you can tell if your rent is too high.
- What is everyone else in your area paying?
Whether you live inside the city or out in the suburbs, rent prices vary neighborhood. For apartments and condos, prices in your building could be totally different than the building right next door.
Even the time of year you signed your lease can factor into what you’re paying. Landlords typically charge more for rent in the spring and summer months because more people like to move that time of year, which makes the demand for rental properties increase. Since less people move in the winter months, better deals and cheaper rent can usually be found.
To get a great sense of how much you should be pay, first find out the average rental cost in your area.
If you find that your rent is higher than the average rental price for your area, that’s a huge red flag.
- What do similar rentals charge?
The size and condition of the home you rent also plays a large part in how much you pay each month. People who rent newly-remodeled private houses will likely pay more than renters living in 20-year-old, one-bedroom apartments, obviously.
Go online and research rental homes currently being offered in your area. Check Zillow, Trulia, and even Craigslist. If you live in an apartment complex, call the leasing office and pretend to be a potential renter. Ask what prices a similar home like yours is currently going for.
If you can easily find five or more similar rentals priced much lower than yours, you’re likely overpaying.
- Check Your Amenities?
Certain amenities, community features, and little extras add to a landlord’s expenses—and if your community is packed with perks, you’re likely paying much more than you would at a bare-bones apartment complex.
Amenities come in all shapes and sizes. Fitness centers, swimming pools, 24-hour concierge, on-site security, dog parks; they all are designed to make your community more enjoyable and attract renters to live there.
Deciding if you’re paying too much for those amenities really depends on how much you use and enjoy what’s offered—and if you could get a better price going somewhere else.
For example, if you use the on-site fitness center every night, it may seem like a great deal, but if a nearby similar apartment complex without a gym charges $100 less a month and you could sign up for a gym membership off-site for $25, you may be overpaying.
- Is your latest rent increase fair?
In a hot rental market, be prepared for your landlord to raise your rent when it’s time to renew your lease, but you’ll want to make sure the increase is fair.
When the time comes to renew your lease, check to see how rental prices in your area have changed since you moved in. Research rent control laws in your area.
In many cities, landlords can only increase the rent by a certain percentage if your building is rent controlled. If you don’t live in an area with rent control, check the state’s landlord and tenant laws, because there may be a cap on increases.
If your landlord is within the legal limit and you still feel the increase is too high, try negotiating. If you’ve been a good tenant and the landlord fears you might move out over a price increase, he may be willing to compromise.