Can you negotiate rent? The short answer is yes. After all, you never get anything unless you ask for it.
So, how do you go about negotiating rent? Rental negotiations can be tricky, so it’s always in your best interest to be strategic when talking to landlords. Here are different ways to negotiate rent, gain bargaining power, take action and (hopefully) get a lower rent from your property manager.
1. Understand the rental market
The first step in negotiating rent is to do your research ahead of time. Look around and understand what surrounding apartment rates are. Compare apples to apples. If you’re interested in a new development, then look at other new developments.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of the amenities that are available and how they compare to the unit you’re considering. For example, if one neighboring apartment complex offers covered parking, a gym and a pool, you’ll want to compare that to an apartment complex with similar offerings. After all, those amenities increase the price of rent. Make this info known to your property manager.
Rental rates are not a secret, but they can change from day to day. Get a competing rate in writing if you can, and if it’s lower than the one being offered, have it with you when you go to negotiate. A lower rate in a similar apartment is a great tool for negotiating a lower price on your own apartment.
2. Consider the time of year
For property managers, timing is everything and there are seasonal trends in the moving and rental industry. In other words, think about the broader supply and demand trends during any given season.
If it’s the end of the month, vacancies are high and you’d be willing to leave if you don’t get what you want, that could be a time when a manager is more likely to be amenable to your offer. However, if you don’t have an alternate place to move ahead of time, you may not want to start negotiating rent until something else is lined up.
As a rule of thumb, winter is usually a good moment to broach the topic of cheaper rent, as it’s harder to find tenants during that time of year. Summer is peak rental season, so you’ll need to be a little more persuasive if you’re trying to negotiate rent during the peak moving season.
3. Sell yourself as a good tenant
Looking for another lesson on how to negotiate rent? If you’ve never rented in that particular complex a few letters of recommendation from personal references will go a long way toward convincing a manager you’d be a tenant worth having, even at a lower rate.
Think of it as a resume for your living situation. Get a letter from previous landlords or apartment managers that says you make on-time rent payments and cause them no problems. Get letters that speak to your character from a former boss, neighbor, or someone in a non-profit organization or church. Just like in a job interview, these professional references can help you negotiate rent and sell yourself as a good tenant for your potential new landlord.
If you’re trying to renew your existing lease at a better rate, remind the manager that you’ve always paid your rent on time and anything else that’s positive. Have you kindly alerted them to maintenance concerns? Have you helped in an emergency? Have you assisted during holiday parties? These situations can go a long way and help you lower the cost of rent on your upcoming lease.
4. Exchange value for price
What’s a lower rent price worth to you? Would you consider doing something above and beyond paying rent that offers tangible value to your property manager?
Think of jobs or tasks around the property — maintenance, cleaning, administrative, marketing — that would increase the underlying value of the owner or manager’s investment. Helping with some of these activities could cut down on expenses and thus, justify the price reduction you’re looking for.
Another “how to” negotiate your rent tip is to bargain with amenities and other things of value. Are you willing to give up your parking space to reduce rent each month? Or, can you pay six months of rent upfront or in cash? Would you be willing to sign a longer lease at a lower rate?
Think like a manager. Everything has a value and most everything is fair game to negotiate or trade with. Don’t be afraid to ask what your manager needs. If he or she has flexibility in pricing (and they usually do), then you might be able to help each other.
5. Experiment with the lease terms
Offering a different move-out date, extending your lease term or reworking the end of your lease term to fall during high season (spring or summer) are some of the ways you may be able to play with lease dates and terms that might be attractive to a leasing manager.
Get your negotiation in writing
As with many things in life, you can ask for and negotiate anything — including rent. If you’re a good tenant, can be persuasive and ask for what you want and need, you can negotiate the terms of your lease and rent prices and walk away with a lower rental rate.
After you’ve worked out a reduced rate with your landlord, make sure you get the new deal in writing so you have a paper trail and proof of your newly negotiated rate.
FAQs around rent negotiations
Rent negotiations are tricky and require a wealth of knowledge and understanding.
How can I negotiate rent for a rent-controlled apartment?
Negotiating rent for a rent-controlled apartment is different. In these cases, research local rent control laws and regulations to understand your rights and limitations. While you may not have as much room for negotiation on the base rent, you can explore negotiations on other aspects, like utilities or improvements.
How can I negotiate rent if I have a low credit score or a poor rental history?
If you have a low credit score or a poor rental history, you can still negotiate rent. Tips to overcome this include offering to pay a larger security deposit, providing a co-signer or demonstrating your commitment to improving your credit and rental history. This can help build trust with the landlord and potentially secure a lower rate.
What if my landlord refuses to negotiate the rent?
If your landlord is unwilling to negotiate the rent, consider proposing alternative terms, such as a longer lease or prepayment of rent. If negotiations remain unsuccessful, you may need to decide whether you’re willing to accept the current rent or look for another rental property.
Can you negotiate rent? It’s worth a shot!
Negotiating rent is not only possible but also a valuable skill for renters. By following these steps, you can strategically and effectively negotiate your rent with confidence. Understanding the rental market, considering the timing of your negotiation and presenting yourself as a desirable tenant are essential elements in the process. Remember, communication is key in this process, and being prepared, courteous and persistent can lead to a mutually beneficial agreement with your landlord.