Making Housing More Affordable for Renters and Owners

6 Ways to Make Housing More Affordable

Housing is one of the highest expenses we will ever face, whether you own or rent. There are valid arguments for both sides of the rent/buy debate, but no matter what you need to do, there are ways to reduce your expenses.

affordable

RENTERS:

Offer to exchange services for reduced rent

My partner and I used to live in an apartment building, and the superintendent was an older lady. She had assistant supers who worked outside jobs, so when it snowed, there was not always someone who could shovel right away. (Don’t forget I am in Canada, and we can get whoppers of snow fall now and again!) My partner used to come home from work, and immediately grab a shovel to clear the walkways and exits. He did this without being asked, as he saw the superintendent struggling with it, or because it was easier to clean the walkway than to track in snow throughout the hallways and wait for it to be cleared. Our superintendent was not able to reduce our rent for this help, but come summer, we did not pay for air conditioning hydro charges AND she was going to give us a free window air conditioner. We did not do this for the benefits, but sometimes offering to help out can reduce your expenses.

I have also heard of agreements where the tenant is responsible for grass cutting, or snow removal, or painting units in exchange for rent reductions.

Note: Get your agreement in writing if it is a substantial amount of work being exchanged.

Pay Rent On Time For A Discount

Some property management companies and property owners will offer a discount if you pay your rent on time. It can range from 5-15% of the total rent, provided that each month, you pay on or by the due date. Ask your superintendent or landlord about getting a discount if you pay on time, every time.

Rent a Less Desirable Unit

I’m sure you’ve heard of penthouse suites as the most desirable units, and there’s always rumours about those nasty units that are like caves or crawl spaces. Some property owners have renovated basements into lovely apartments, with decent windows, a lot of natural light and they rent for less because they are a basement unit.

When looking for a new place to live, ask your property manager if there is a cheaper unit. Sometimes it’s a few square feet smaller, by an elevator, or partly in-ground… but they can be just as nice or nicer than the units that go for premium dollars.

Pay For Your Own Utilities

If your apartment has the option to be independently metered, or you are looking for a new place, try to find one that does have separate meters for utilities.

If you live in a building without separate meters, then you usually pay a share of the total bill. Problem with this is, your neighbor Jill knows she doesn’t pay for gas or water, so she runs hot water on everything, and as often as she can. You, on the other hand, wash laundry in off hours on cold water, have short showers and never waste hot water if you can help it. Why would you both pay the same amount towards utilities when it’s clear you are not the main user?

Even if the units are only metered for hydro or gas, it will help reduce your costs because you are in charge of the usage. If you are conscientious about turning off lights, using little hydro and being as energy efficient as possible, your hydro bills will be but a percentage compared to your neighbor.

Savings on your utility bills means more in your pocket!

RENTERS AND OWNERS

Rent Out A Room or Space

Renting out a room doesn’t always equal a full-time roommate. You could:

  • Rent space in a basement or empty room for storage while people are moving
  • Rent space for small businesses to store stock
  • Rent to a shift worker who works during the week in a city but resides on weekends elsewhere
  • Rent as a bed and breakfast or AirBnB
  • Rent to an international student who needs a place during the school year
  • Rent out a garage for winter storage (cars, motorcycles, summer tires, etc.)
  • Rent out a garden shed or greenhouse to growers (of the legal kind)
  • Rent out your garden to a neighbor who needs more growing space
  • Rent your parking spot if you do not have a car
  • Look into wind power or solar power – some companies will pay you to install their products on your property
  • Rent out your basement kitchen to people who need more room for canning, freezing, meal preps, etc.
  • And, of course, there is the traditional idea: rent to someone as a roommate or tenant

Note: if you are renting your space, be sure that you are not voiding your lease by having a sub-tenant or work-from-home business

Do An Energy Audit

There are people who will come in and inspect your home for energy loss. It might be drafts through windows or doors, or even electrical outlets, hot spots in the house, or more efficient ways to set up your home. Recommendations like adding more insulation or plastic wrapping windows could save you a lot of money, especially if you did not know that you were losing heat!

Certain things you can do regardless where you live, and do not need to have an auditor come through. Go to your home renovation centres and ask for the section for energy efficient items. You will find many items that you could install, even on a temporary basis if you are renting, that will help keep the house cooler in the summer, and warmer in the winter.

Note: If you think you can replicate the items for less cost, just be sure that you are not creating a fire hazard. Certain materials are fire retardant, and other materials may fail code.

 

I hope this list will get you started in saving a few dollars and helping you on your way to financial independence!

 

 

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8 Pet Peeves of Frugality

 

8 Pet Peeves of Frugality

 

FRUGALITY

 

Frugal tips that really bug me 

 

There are a ton of frugal tips out there that are fantastic, and almost as many that really bother me. Here’s my list of things to NOT do, as inevitably, they will come back to us in our cost of living. 

Take condiment packages from restaurants.

 

These restaurants put them out for use with the meals we purchase. If people start taking more than their share, eventually the restaurant will stop providing them, or the prices will go up. This means the condiments will no longer be free to people to use with their meals, as we will pay more. 

 

Share cable or other streaming services with the neighbour.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not the cable police. But services are metered out per household, and when more use is put on one line, it can have an affect on the usage of the area. If your service package says it’s only for your household, then don’t share with neighbours. If you get caught, you may lose your account or even be charged with theft.

 

 

Sign up multiple times for services with different email addresses just to get the free trial over and over. 

 

If the service is good enough that you want to use it regularly, and you go to the trouble of using multiple emails, you may get caught as all emails are coming from the same IP address. Further, you are still creating cost for the company, which in turn causes a higher cost to others. (It’s not like the company will lower their profits, right?) 

 

Reusing stamps that have not been inked.

 

Okay, this one is iffy. The post office is to ink each stamp to show it’s used, and sometimes they miss one or two. Is it ok to remove the stamp and reuse it? You are creating work for someone who has to be paid, and you haven’t paid for that service. That’s not a cool thing to do.

 

Signing up for freebies with multiple emails.

 

I’ve been guilty of this one. If a company is providing free samples, is it fair to sign up for four when three other people could use them and perhaps be customers in the future? Think about if you were in the grocery store. Would you eat four samples just because you were standing there and you were at the front of the line? (Maybe if they were super good, but even then, no!)

 

 

 

Stealing from community gardens.

 

Community gardens are for communities to grow fruits and vegetables, not for the community to feed the community – unless otherwise specified. A community garden is not up for grabs by anyone other than the gardener.

 

 

 

Denting cans or causing damage to packaging for a discount.

 

I’ve seen one too many Simpsons episodes, but dented cans are not usually a discounted item unless they are in a discount bin. Don’t cause damage to packaging in hopes that you might be eligible for a discount on the product.

 

 

Dirty Habits: Not flushing toilets, not washing clothes for multiple times of wear, and worst of all: that you can get more than one day out of socks and underwear.

 

Sometimes cleanliness is worth the extra pennies of being frugal, so please flush those toilets, wash your clothes and change your gitches! 

 

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Recommended Reading:

A Beginner’s Guide to RRSPs and TFSAs

31 Ways to Max Out Your TFSA (or IRA)

Save My Rental: What You Need To Know About Tenant Selection 

 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.