Quick Quiz: Find Out If Your Rent Is Too High

In a post-recession world, renting is way different.

Mortgages are tougher to obtain, more people are renting, and those who are renting are staying renters for longer periods of time.

Demand for rental housing continues to increase, and rent prices are climbing.

It’s no wonder renters believe their rent payments are too expensive. While it’s easy to worry about the bottom line, how do you know if you’re paying too much?

Here are four quick ways you can tell if your rent is too high.

1. What does everyone else in your city pay?

Rent prices vary by neighborhood, whether you live in the city or the ‘burbs. Even the time of year you signed your lease can factor into what you’re paying.

To get a great sense of how much you should be pay, first find out the average rental cost in your city.

To make things easy on yourself, locate your city on realtor.com®’s Local Information map. There you’ll find your city’s average rent rate.

If your rent is higher than the average price, that’s a huge red flag.

2. What do similar rentals charge?

The size and condition of your rental 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 one-bedroom apartments, obviously.

To figure out if you’re paying more than others, plug your city or ZIP code into the realtor.com® Rental Properties database–along with your housing type and number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

If you can easily find five or more similar rentals priced much lower than yours, you’re probably overpaying.

3. How are the perks?

Certain amenities, community features, and little extras add to a landlord’s expenses–and if your community is stacked with perks, you’re likely paying more than you would at a bare-bones apartment complex.

Deciding if you’re paying too much for those perks 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 community gym 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.

4. Is your latest rent increase fair?

It isn’t unusual for a landlord to raise your rent when you re-up your lease, but you’ll want to make sure the increase is legal–and fair.

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.



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