MassLandlords Advises Tenants on High Rent

By Kimberly Rau, MassLandlords Writer

Rent costs in Boston are up 2.3 percent over last year, with a two-bedroom rental averaging more than $2,100 a month and a single bedroom not far behind at around $1,700. Doug Quattrochi and Peter Shapiro of MassLandlords spoke with WCVB 5 on Nov. 5 about ways renters can try to soften that blow.

Landlords might rejoice at high rents, but when the renter community asked for advice on saving money, MassLandlords was ready with creative and landlord-friendly suggestions.

Essentially, the key is communication and being willing to work with each other. Tenants should strive to have a good working relationship with their landlord, who would much rather keep an existing good tenant than go to the expense of finding a new one. Tenants should report problems in the rental early on, before they become big problems with bigger repair costs. Landlords of units where utilities are included may also be more willing to allow roommates to help split the rent if tenants offer to take over costs like the electric bill.

When possible, tenants can try to offer their services on small projects such as shoveling snow or mowing the lawn to lower what the landlord would otherwise have to pay an outside contractor to do. However, the article suggested an even exchange (labor for a lower rent) was the way to go, which could cause problems down the road. While landlords should be willing to recognize situations that could benefit both parties, they should do so through the correct channels.

“I appreciated WCVB’s interest and work on this story,” Quattrochi said later. “The one thing is, they edited out my warning about having renters do work. They will be viewed as an employee or contractor. If you go this route, keep the rent where you want it and have a formal employment or subcontractor relationship with paper trail and all required workers comp insurance and tax reporting.”

One final tip for landlords who recognize the value of long-term clients? Consider lowering rent if a tenant is willing to sign a lease that’s longer than the standard 12-month contract. In the long term, keeping a good tenant at a slight discount is cheaper than finding a new tenant every year.

You can find the full interview here.

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