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10 Mar 2022

Ease the squeeze: how to save on renting

What you can do to keep your monthly rent costs down
Houses to let

Rent prices are hitting record highs at a time when many people are struggling to pay other household bills. Here's our advice on how to keep your rent under control, as well as our guide to your rights as a tenant.

We recently surveyed 2,003 renters in the UK. Of the 38% who had their tenancy agreement renewed in the past six months, their rent increased by an average of 7.2%.

The Which? Money Podcast has heard from renters affected by rising costs, and spoken to experts about what people can do to keep them as low as possible.

Here, we've rounded up our tips on , making savings , and the you could qualify for.

And if you're struggling to pay your rent, .

How to save on renting via negotiating

  • Propose a lower rent
  • Cite problems with your tenancy

If you're renewing your lease on your current home, you can always challenge the rent on the page by suggesting something lower, or for any increase to be delayed.

One in 10 renters we surveyed tried negotiating when they last renewed their tenancy agreement. A fifth of them managed to reduce their rent by an average of 11% a month - which worked out at £100 on average for this sample. Another fifth managed to keep their rent the same.

Sadly, three in 10 who didn't negotiate said they didn't know they could, and one in five were worried they'd be evicted if they tried negotiating.

You may have a stronger hand if your landlord hasn't been keeping up with the maintenance.

Boiler breakdowns, leaky pipes, faulty wiring, damp problems, broken doors and windows: your landlord is responsible for fixing all of these. If they haven't, you may be able to secure a rent discount, or at least stave off an increase.

If you can't come to an agreement with your landlord, you can formally challenge a rent increase. But it's worth making sure this is a good idea before you do. Find out more about challenging your rent here from Shelter and Citizens Advice.

How to save on renting by moving

  • Compare locations by average rates
  • Consider the impact on your other costs

Relocating won't be an option for everyone, but if you are looking to move, there are ways to find a cheaper place, even nearby with similar spec.

Use a property portal such as Rightmove or Zoopla to find cheaper areas close to where you live now. There may be cheaper streets just five or ten minutes drive away.

You can enter your criteria into Rightmove's 'Where Can I Live?' tool and it'll suggest areas you can afford.

Just make sure you balance the cheaper rent with other costs, such as a potentially longer commute. Moving could also work out to your advantage, if it gives you access to a cheaper supermarket or lower energy bills, for instance.

What to do if you can't pay your bills

While missing rent payments could eventually get you evicted, your landlord can't throw you out without notice.

There's plenty of advice out there on what to do if you are in arrears or at risk of missing payments. Usually it involves coming to an agreement with your landlord on how to pay the rent you owe.

Citizens Advice has online advice on speaking to your landlord about arrears, or contact your local branch for personalised help.

You can also contact Stepchange or Shelter for more information on help if you're behind on rent. For example, you may qualify for the 'breathing space' scheme, which could help delay eviction while you make a payment plan.

You can read more about the process your landlord must follow to evict you on the government's website.

Could an affordable housing scheme save you money?

The government has several 'affordable housing' schemes geared towards low-income households. If you haven't looked into these, it's worth checking if you qualify, and weighing up the pros and cons of using them.

  • Shared ownership:allows you to buy a percentage of a home and pay rent on the rest. The idea is you'll be able to 'staircase' your way up to full ownership, although there is little evidence that this often happens in reality.
  • Social housing:you may be able to rent at a discounted rate through a housing association or council. Search here to find your local council's housing support page, which will give you more details.
  • Help to Buy loan: this government loan may help you become a homeowner, but this might not end up cheaper for you month-to-month until you pay off your mortgage. However, Halifax says homeowners paid less than renters during the pandemic.

Find out more:is it cheaper to rent or buy a home?

Do you have the right to fight rent rises?

Adam French, Which? Consumer Rights Editor

Your landlord should be charging you 'market rent', which is the going rate in your area. It can be affected by the availability and cost of similar homes for rent nearby.

Renters pay £969 a month on average, £62 more than at the start of the pandemic, according to Zoopla. But this can vary widely depending on where you live.

If you think your rent is excessive compared to similar properties in your area, you can apply to the Rent Assessment Committee (RAC).

However, you can only do this within the first six months of your tenancy. It doesn't help hagglers, as an application can't be made to the RAC if the original tenancy has ended and been replaced, and it's more than six months since the start date of the original tenancy.