Six Tips to Getting the Best Deal on Your Rent

The competition for rental homes is heating up as more Americans choose to rent instead of buy. And that increase in demand is driving up rent prices in some markets.

Below are six tips for getting the best deals.

1. Work rental websites. Looking for an apartment in a large rental community? Start with Rent.com, says Allison Atsiknoudas, CEO of Rentometer.com, a site where you can analyze and compare rent prices. But if you’re looking for a unit owned by a smaller apartment company or a condo unit being leased by the owner, start out on Craigslist.org, she says.

HotPads.com features rental and for-sale home listings from 400 partners, including multiple-listing services and brokerage companies. Cazoodle.com pulls listings from nearly 10,000 websites, including newspaper classifieds, online forums and individual property management sites.

2. Spread the word. Sometimes you can get into a great apartment through word of mouth before it hits the market, Ms. Atsiknoudas says. So tell friends and family members that you’re looking for a place.

3. Consider a single-family home. Homeowners may be renting out their condos and houses because they’re having difficulty selling them in this market, says Douglas Pope, co-founder of HotPads. These properties are often priced lower than other rentals, partly because they may not come with the same level of amenities and owners may be more motivated to get their places rented.

4. Look beyond rentals. With the housing market still weak, ask home sellers if they’d be willing to rent instead.

5. Compare rents. After finding a place you’re interested in, look for comparable rentals to make sure its rent price is competitive. HotPads.com shows how rentals compare with others in the area. Rentometer.com analyzes how a particular rent compares with others in the neighborhood.

6. Flaunt good credit. If you have good credit, mention that to the landlord, Ms. Atsiknoudas says. It may help you stand out against other possible renters.