Groceries, hair products, and even car maintenance are all areas where it’s fairly easy to find money saving coupons, but what about pricier expenses, like rent?

Many renters don’t realize exactly how a landlord calculates rent. In addition to covering the cost of their mortgage, most landlords also figure in the cost of typical repairs and general maintenance. A landlord has to cover himself in case a tenant is less than responsible and causes any sort of damage to the home. If you can demonstrate to your landlord that you are not only a reliable tenant, but trustworthy, you might be able to shave a bit off your monthly rent payment.

1. Stop Wearing Shoes Inside

Shoes wear down carpet incredibly quickly. In addition to dragging in dirt, mud, and water, they also cause damage and snags to carpet. Shoes can also damage both hardwood flooring and kitchen linoleum. Ask your landlord if he would consider taking off a certain amount of your rent if you promise not to wear shoes inside. Taking off your shoes will help elongate the life of your flooring, which will save your landlord time and money in the long run. If you love to entertain and aren’t sure how your guests would handle the idea of not wearing shoes inside, consider keeping a small basket of slippers by the front door for your visitors to wear while in your home.

2. Do Your Own Landscaping

Does your landlord pay someone to mow your lawn each week or hire a contractor for exterior home repairs? If you’re handy and willing to get a little dirty, you could cut off as much as $35-50 each month by maintaining your lawn and home’s exterior. If you don’t own a lawnmower and don’t want to buy a new one, consider asking a neighbor if you can borrow theirs once a week. In return, you could offer to mow their lawn, provide a free night of babysitting, or even give them some coupons!

3. Sign a Longer Lease

If your lease is only for 6 months, or if your landlord typically manages month-to-month properties, discuss the possibility of signing a longer lease. One of the biggest concerns a landlord has is the unpredictability of tenants moving. If your landlord knows that he’ll have steady rent income for a full year, he can relax without having to worry about advertising and finding a new tenant. Ask if he’d consider knocking off a few dollars each month if you agree to sign a long-term lease.

4. Fix Up The Place

Does your apartment have a leaky faucet? Does the home need a fresh coat of paint? Is the caulking in the bathtub beginning to flake away? A handyman or plumber can cost up to $100 an hour plus the cost of supplies.  Conducting your own home repairs can save your landlord quite a bit of cash. Ask if he would consider reducing the cost of your monthly rent by, or giving you a credit for the amount spent on each in-home repair you conduct yourself. For example, if you fix the sink, ask to be credited the amount of money you spent on a new faucet.

5. Avoid Making Alterations

Simple alterations to the home can cost your landlord large amounts of money when you move out. Something as simple as hanging a new towel rack or painting a room an unusual color could cost your landlord time and money to return the home to its original condition once you vacate.

Discuss the possibility of a rental reduction if you avoid making any alterations. For example, avoid hanging pictures or putting nails in the walls, don’t pin up holiday lights or wreaths on your home’s exterior, and skip adding wallpaper or borders to the walls. While the thought of not decorating or making the home “your own” might be one you dislike, it could result in a significant rental reduction. If your landlord isn’t onboard with the idea of giving you a monthly credit for this, ask if you could have an end-of-year inspection. If the landlord is happy with the appearance of the home, he could give you a once-yearly rental credit.

If you decide that you’d like to talk to your landlord about the possibility of a rent decrease, schedule a time when the two of you can get together and talk in a non-confrontational manner. Avoid emailing or calling to discuss a rent decrease, since the terms will likely need to be added to your current lease. Approach the topic delicately. Remember that landlords put a large amount of thought and effort into determining the rate of your rent.  Avoid asking for extreme decreases in rent. Instead, explain that you’d like to cut your costs, and ask if your landlord would consider reducing your rent in exchange for the above suggestions. Chances are, your landlord is just as eager to cut unnecessary costs as you are and will be receptive to your ideas.

This has been a guest post by Beth from Baltimore, MD
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Negotiate Now: 5 Tips to Lowering Your Rent