Be a Negotiation Ninja: 5 Ways to Save on Rent (Without Getting a Roommate)

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Who likes to save money? We do! Especially when it's on the most painful bill of the month: rent. Don't resort to a roommate — try these five things first.

1. Know your market. This is your first line of defense against signing an exorbitant lease, only to later realize you've overpaid. Look at multiple listings in the neighborhood, talk with current residents, and always, always double-check a site like Rentometer to see how your potential rent stacks up. Doing your homework will net you a smoother negotiation and better deal.

2. Pay early. Get into the mind of your landlord. Getting a high price for an apartment is good, but just as good is a tenant who always pays on time or early. Prove yourself a consistent and reliable tenant (and point it out on the regular); your landlord may just decide to forgo a rent increase to keep responsible you around.

3. Take on renovations. Handy around the house? Those are valuable skills that could really pay off. If you have a hankering to fix up your rental, try negotiating a "fee" to be taken off your rent. Refinishing floors or cabinets, recaulking the tub or replacing drafty windows — these things add value to the landlord's property but, as the tenant, you'll also reap the benefits of a nicer space. Win win!

4. Extend your lease. Negotiating? Make concessions that don't affect your bottom line. Committing to a longer lease will give your landlord peace of mind that he won't be doing another tenant search anytime soon. Making his life easier may just make him willing to give you a better deal and let you lock in that lower price for longer.

5. Search off-season. Take advantage of supply and demand. Fewer tenants mean less competition, and more landlords looking to make a deal in order to prevent their apartments from sitting empty. When should you look? Winter is your best bet for finding a steal of an apartment. No one wants to move in the snow and you can use that to your advantage. Search October through March and it will pay off every month in savings.

See? Five little things! It's easy. So go forth and negotiate.That little bit of extra effort and apartment savvy up front could make your renting life so much sweeter.

(Image credits: Lindsay Tella)