What Renters Need to Know About Landlords

If you’re a renter, you’re probably well aware of the current state of the rental market. Supply is limited and demand is huge, so your housing is costing you dearly.

And the financial strain isn’t limited to hot spots like New York and San Francisco. In fact, Zillow analysis found 90 cities where the median rent — not including utilities — is more than 30 percent of the median gross income.

As landlords sit comfortably in the driver’s seat, here’s what else they’re up to:

Making money

Home owners who rent out their property are making money — if they’re in places like Oklahoma City, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Tulsa, Cincinnati and Denver, according to a recent Zillow analysis.

Rental property owners in these markets have the biggest short-term financial gains with profits — the difference between the monthly rent and mortgage payments.

Many mom-and-pop landlords are primarily concerned with monthly profits, but they must also pay attention to long-term profits, because they may have to absorb monthly losses before realizing any significant financial gains over the long haul. See how the largest 50 U.S. metros stack up in terms of short- and long-term profits for landlords.

Raising rents

New data shows that rents have risen nationally for 23 straight quarters, and are more than 15 percent higher than they were at the end of the recession in 2009.

And there’s no end in sight. Due to an extremely low level of apartment vacancies, many landlords will continue to raise rates, simply because they can.

As a renter, knowing your market helps level the playing field. This is where Zillow’s Rent Zestimate® comes in handy. Make this your starting point to determine the fair rental price of a home or apartment, and use this as a tool to negotiate your rent.

Offering fewer concessions

Remember the good old days when you could easily get concessions like a free month’s rent, complimentary parking or a break on the deposit?

These perks are much less common now. To increase your chances of getting a little extra something, flaunt what you’ve got: good credit, steady income, solid references and a history of paying your bills on time. After all, model tenants — who save landlords both time and money — are hard to come by.

Vera Gibbons is a financial journalist based in New York City and is a contributor to Zillow Blog. Connect with her at http://veragibbons.com/.