Four Lease Negotiation Tips
When looking for an apartment, people don’t necessarily think about the prospect of lease negotiation like they would when hunting for a house to buy. They’ll stress over finding the perfect apartment in the perfect neighborhood for the perfect price, and may not even consider that fact that lease negotiation could be on the table. Although rental rates have been rising, many landlords need you to rent their apartments just as badly as you need a place to live. The current economic climate means you may have to try a little harder, but it’s still possible to do a little negotiation to secure better terms on your lease:
1. Time it Right
You may be in a much better position to negotiate your lease if you conduct your apartment search during months when there aren’t many renters out there looking, namely in the fall or winter. Landlords are in a more powerful position when new college grads and people whose leases have ended are looking for new digs around June and August. Timing also applies to when you should begin the negotiation process–never do so before you’ve submitted an application. Once you have been approved, then it’s time to start lease negotiation.
2. Do Your Research
Just like you wouldn’t go to a job interview without doing your research beforehand, you shouldn’t propose to negotiate before you have all the facts. Hopefully your apartment search has given you the opportunity to look at many different apartments in the neighborhood, so take the price and amenities of those residences into account. If there are any comparable apartments in the area (same relative square footage and basic amenities), you may be able to use this information as leverage. Before you enter the negotiation process, make a decision about what you are willing to give up and what is simply non-negotiable.
3. Be Flexible
Asking for unreasonable concessions during negotiations is going to get you nowhere–you can’t expect your future landlord to lower your monthly rent and include all amenities. You’re going to have to be flexible. After all, negotiating is a two-way street. For example, you may want to offer to sign a longer lease or water the flowers outside the building in exchange for a discount on rent. Keep in mind what is important to you and be prepared to give a little in areas that don’t matter as much.
4. Be Friendly and Polite
A smile can go a long way–you’d be surprised how much a landlord liking you can help the lease negotiation process. Make the effort to ensure that all of your interactions are friendly, and demonstrate that you are a responsible tenant and good citizen. All landlords want tenants who are reliable and trustworthy, and you can convey this by always being polite and well-dressed–driving up in a dirty car sends the wrong message (even if you did just go on a road trip).