Consumer Watch: Rising rent

(CNN) -- A new study finds that millions of Americans can't afford their rent.

It's the focus of political promises and slogans. The rent is just too high.

According to a new study, millions of Americans can't afford their rent.

A Harvard report found that almost 21 million people were considered burdened by their rent in 2016. This means more than 30% of income is dedicated to housing and utilities.

Some are in even worse shape.

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25% of renters pay more than half of their income for housing.

Losing such a big chunk of your check can impact your savings and force tough spending decisions down the road like deciding weather to pay rent or pay for food.

There is some good news.

An improving economy and rising paychecks have helped ease the burden for some renters.

However, affluent renters combined with high building and land costs are driving the prices up.

You may be able to lower payments. Try to switch providers every year and call your cable company to see if you can negotiate a lower rate. If that doesn't work, cut the cord and switch to a streaming service.

Also, consider getting a roommate. The new person could help you cut costs in half.

If you are a good renter, haggle with your landlord. Try to talk the company out of raising your rent when it comes time to renew.

If an appliance breaks, ask your landlord about getting credit on your next rent statement, especially if you have to spend money while you wait for that appliance to get fixed.

The bottom line is that it doesn't hurt to have a conversation. It may just help keep your costs down.

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