We’re all about hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. And Eric Grzymkowski’s new book What Do I Do If…?: How to Get Out of Real-Life Worst-Case Scenarios is just the thing we’re after. Offering straightforward, realistic fixes to a laundry list of worst case scenarios, What Do I Do If…? is the latest guide for making things right, from getting injured without insurance to clogging the toilet at a party (yikes). Here, Grzymkowkski shares a “what to do” for renters facing higher rent, pulled directly from the pages of his new book.
Likelihood of Happening: High
Ease of Prevention: Low
Is Time a Factor? No
Renting an apartment can be an expensive business. Naturally, you have to pay the first month’s rent, and a security deposit makes perfect sense—the landlord is taking on some risk, after all. But then there’s the last month’s rent, which always feels more like a personal loan, and that real estate agent isn’t going to show you around out of the goodness of her heart, so there’s the broker fee to consider. So when it comes time to renew the lease, it’s no wonder that most tenants lose their minds when they notice a rent increase.
Know Your Rights
The tenant/landlord relationship is a complicated one, and most states have special regulations in place to take some of the guesswork out of it. This includes provisions regarding when it’s permissible to raise rent, as well as allowable percentage increases.
Before you do anything else, do some research and see if your landlord’s proposed rent increase meets your state’s guidelines. If, for example, it’s only been a few months since you moved in, and your lease explicitly states the terms extend for a twelve-month period, then you might find your landlord is completely in the wrong.
Do the Math
Small increases in rent to keep up with inflation as well as the rising value of homes in the neighborhood should be expected. If the amount is reasonable, your best bet might be to suck it up and pay the increased rent. To determine what amount you are willing to pay, you will first need to weigh the increase against the cost of moving. If the increase is less, you should probably stay put. You should also shop around in your neighborhood to see the price of comparable rental units. This will help determine if moving is a wise investment, as well as provide leverage should you decide to negotiate with your landlord.
Talk to Your Landlord
Landlords are people, too, and hopefully yours is a reasonable one. If you feel the rent increase is unfair, or you simply can’t afford to pay any more each month, then sit down with your landlord and discuss the matter. Good tenants are hard to come by, so it’s quite possible you have some real bargaining power.
If your landlord won’t budge on the increase, try negotiating other things as requirements for your renewal. An extra few hundred dollars a month should be more than enough to cover an in-unit washer and dryer or insulated windows, both of which would raise the value of the apartment as well as save you money.
There’s always a chance you won’t be able to come to any sort of agreement, and you’ll be stuck either ponying up the extra cash or looking for a new place to call home. But hey, at least you tried.
Excerpted from What Do I Do If…?: How to Get Out of Real-Life Worst-Case Scenarios Copyright © by Eric Grzymkowski and published by F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.