Here are some tips for renters:

• Ask your landlord to reduce the weekly rent in return for work around the home. In one case the tenant (who happened to be a painter) had the rent reduced for redecorating the unit. It worked well for everyone – the landlord had his unit upgraded on what was, in effect, time payment, and the tenant saved money and lives in a unit decorated to their taste.

• Most landlords prefer long-term tenants. This saves them money because they reduce the “down time” between tenants, and the tenants tend to treat their property as their home. It also saves them a lot of hassles. Landlords don’t like finding new tenants because it takes time and they run the risk of making a bad choice. All landlords are keen to hang onto good tenants, and most will be prepared to reduce their rent to those who rent on a long-term basis. It also suits those tenants who want the security of knowing they are going to be there for a long time which avoids the upheaval of shifting and changing schools etc.

• If you are renting you could become a “sub-landlord and take in flatmates to reduce the cost. We know of cases where enterprising tenants actually live rent-free!