By Chuck Bentley
Recent Census data revealed that more than one in four U.S. renters have to use at least half of their family income to pay for housing and utilities.
That’s the finding of an analysis of Census data by Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit that helps finance affordable housing. The number of such households has jumped 26 percent due to the Great Recession. The recession pushed more millennials, former homeowners who faced foreclosure, and low-wage workers into rental housing.
Since the end of 2010, rental prices have surged at nearly twice the pace of average hourly wages, according to data from the real estate firm Zillow and the Labor Department.
Just as buying too much house can strain your budget, so can paying too much rent. To avoid the trap of ever rising rental costs, here are some tips:
1. Consider negotiating a longer-term lease agreement if you are a “permanent” renter. Landlords like security. Ask for better terms for a longer lease.
2. Ask for a discount on your rent if you can prepay two months at a time even up to one full year. The landlord doesn’t have to worry about collections and you get a lower rental rate.
3. Downsize your apartment or home if your rent is greater than 25 percent of your net spendable income. Better to have a smaller space than the stress of the financial bondage.
4. Consider purchasing a “tiny home.” I know it may seem crazy, but these units have allowed many people to live debt free and recover financially. They also allow you the flexibility to take your housing with you if you need to relocate.
Originally posted 5/19/2015.
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