Top 10 ways to lower your rent (© Simon Marcus/Corbis)

In these difficult financial times, it is helpful to save money in any way that you can. The following tips could help you reduce the rent on your house or apartment.

1. Negotiate with the property-owner
Before you renew your lease, research the prices that are charged for similar rental houses or apartments in your area. Write a respectful letter detailing your understanding of the current average rents in your area and make sure you emphasize your excellent record as a tenant. Property owners may be willing to negotiate rent prices with current tenants rather than going through the hassle of finding new tenants. (Bing: Are there any "gotchas" in your state's landlord and tenant laws?)

2. Use Craigslist to secure a roommate
Craigslist's "rooms and shares" section can be a good way to get a roommate or roommates who can help reduce your monthly rental costs dramatically. You could cut your rental costs in half, and typically, the more roommates, the more you can expect to save. Make sure to screen any potential roommates for poor hygiene, bad boyfriends or body odor ahead of time or suffer the consequences.

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3. Be willing to walk or ride the bus
In larger cities with well-established public-transportation systems, apartments that are closer to train stations and bus stops can be more expensive. If you are willing to walk a block or two, you could save yourself a couple hundred dollars a month. It also could be cheaper to rent an apartment when you do not need to reserve a parking space for a car.

4. Help out the landlord
Some landlords will be happy to give a discount if you offer to do some extra work around your rental unit. If you are renting a house, offer to perform seasonal work, such as cleaning out the gutters or shoveling snow. If you are in an apartment, offer to paint the walls or refinish the cabinets. When you can perform the maintenance yourself, the property owner will not have to hire someone else. You and the owner can save money.

5. Ask someone you know
Talk to your friends or colleagues about helping you find a cheaper place to live. Someone in your social network could have inside information about a property that is offered at a substantially lower rate. Renting from a friend can make moving smoother and more fun, in addition to saving you money.

6. Prepay or sign a one-year lease
Some landlords may offer discounts for tenants who prepay their rent. The guarantee of having a tenant who has already paid for the next few months makes it easier for a landlord to cut the price of the unit. A one-year lease also offers a more stable relationship between the landlord and tenant than does a month-to-month agreement, and that can lead to a rent reduction.

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7. Work as an apartment manager
If you are handy with tools and are willing to work as an apartment complex manager, you might be able to live rent-free. The reduction in your rent will depend on the level of expertise you are expected to provide and the size of your apartment building. You could get a discount for simply offering to keep an eye on the property, collect rent checks and report any potential problems to the owners.

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8. Expand your search for a new apartment
Do not limit yourself to the apartments that are listed in the newspaper or online. Drive through the neighborhoods you would like to live in and look for for-lease signs. Rentals that do not advertise extensively can offer lower rent because they do not spend as much money looking for tenants.

9. Be flexible
Older apartments and houses are generally less expensive to rent than new ones. Do not accept a building that is falling apart, but keep in mind that older dwellings that are well-maintained can be just as comfortable for far less money.

10. Consider a new city
Location is a large part of the price of rent. Sometimes you can save a substantial amount by driving just a little farther from your desired location. Research the cost of renting outside of your immediate neighborhood. It can also save you some money if you have the flexibility to move to a new city where rents are lower overall.

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