1. Its a tough market for landlords. Use that to your advantage

Now is a great time to sign a new lease, Allia Mohamed, CEO of openigloo, a startup that gathers public information on New York City buildings and landlords to help renters make their housing decisions, tells CNBC Make It.

"Before [covid], things were a bit different," Mohamed says. "People would offer more money to secure an apartment before someone else. Now, there's more options on the market and renters have choices."

While negotiating might have once landed your application in the reject pile, it is now something landlords will engage with, particularly in cities that saw large chunks of their populations flee to the suburbs.

"I think pre-pandemic, landlords didn't expect you to negotiate, especially when there was a line of people waiting for an apartment," Mohamed says. "In these conditions, negotiating your rent is so common that almost everyone is trying to do it."

Renters who want to renew their current lease have the most leverage, Mohamed explains, because landlords would rather avoid foregoing rent while they clean, paint and do repairs on an empty unit.

"Assuming you're a good tenant and you pay your rent on time, the landlord should be trying to keep you in the apartment," she explains. "Being in that position gives you a little bit more leverage than normal."


Verify the possibility of rent increases

If you’re new to your apartment, before signing your initial lease is the best time to negotiate the language that’s in the document. If your property owner has written in a standard timeline for rent increases that are a little too high for your wallet to sustain, talk about it now before you’re up against an actual increase.

Ask if they can extend the timing between increases or lessen the amount of each raise in rent. Offer to sign a longer lease or pay a few months in advance, if that works for you. This will prove they’ll have more consistent income by compromising with you on this issue.

When negotiating your rent as a current resident, timing is everything

  • Negotiate before your current lease expires: If your landlord senses your desperation, you won’t have a solid stance to negotiate. It’s best to make sure you’re not rushed to find a place and can shop around a bit. Try negotiating a few months prior to your move-out date.
  • Try to pick a slow time of year: Winter is usually a quieter time for landlords. If you try to swing a deal during the summer moving rush, your request may fall on deaf ears.

How to negotiate rent as a new tenant

The best way to go about any negotiation is to mak

The best way to go about any negotiation is to make the other person feel like they are winning, too. Despite what you’ve probably seen in television and movies, negotiation isn’t about wheeling and dealing or hustling the other side out of money. Think about it in terms of what your landlord would value in return for offering you a reduced rent.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Can you prepay for several months at once?Many landlords would be thrilled to not have to worry about chasing late rent payments (it’s a major headache that everyone hates dealing with). If you can pay a few months upfront, your potential landlord might be willing to offer you a monthly discount.
  • Can you commit to a longer lease? Obviously, be careful with this one, but if you plan on being there for a while, this could be a big negotiating factor. If the lease in question is for 12 months, ask if they’d be willing to drop the monthly rate in return for signing an 18-month or 2-year lease. Not having to find new renters every 12 months is a good reason to give someone a lower monthly rent price.
  • Does the rental allow pets, but you don’t have a pet?Cleaning a unit after a pet-owning resident moves out can cost your landlord or property manager extra time and money. If you don’t have a pet, see if you can use that as a bargaining chip.
  • Can you give up a parking spot?If you don’t have a car or don’t anticipate having many guests with cars, this may be something to offer your landlord. They can offer the extra spot to another tenant and offer you a discount in return.
  • If there are a lot of empty units in your complex, can you make a deal with your landlord for sending referrals? Word of mouth marketing is strong, and landlords know that. Suggest a referral bonus in the form of cheaper rent.

These are just a few ideas to get you started; the sky’s the limit. As long as you can approach the other side with something in return that they value, your chances of snagging a lower rent are higher.

When Should You Negotiate Your Rent?

Knowing when to negotiate is one of the most critical components of negotiating the rent. In general, the following scenarios yield the best results when it comes to it:

Rental has remained on the market for a long time

The reality for some landlords is, even in a strong market, a home may not be rented. Perhaps it is missing certain features or has drawbacks that make it unappealing to many potential tenants. If you can work with what the area or the home has to offer, you can capitalize on its unpopularity and ask for a lower rent.

Falling rental market

It only makes sense to offer a lower price if local rental market prices are falling. This was especially true in 2020-2021 when the economic effects of the pandemic were weighing on rental prices. Due to the decline in demand, many landlords had no choice but to lower the rental prices in order to attract tenants and ensure occupancy of their property. As many businesses closed down, employees who got laid off may have been forced to move out of their homes, creating vacancies. Apart from that, many expats who lived in Malaysia had to return to their countries due to uncertainty and the locals who were still working, were allowed to do so remotely, thus eliminating any reason to rent near the office or in the city, which are often located in a high-demand area.

You’re not in a hurry

If you truly need a new place right now, there probably won’t be many options for you other than to pay the asking price. However, if you’re just starting to consider moving, you can afford to take a chance and see what happens.

Your contract is about to expire

During the course of your tenancy, a lot of things may happen. If the rental market has altered since you signed your last contract, you’re unsure whether to renew or move on, or you’ve lost income during the tenancy, you can try to renegotiate the rental price. If you’ve been proven to be a good tenant, you may have some luck as replacing you would cost the landlord time and money.

Offer Something in Return

What’s going to make the landlord or property manager agree with you and offer you lower rent? Well, it may take offering him/her something in return. If you’re dealing with a small property management company or an independent owner, you can offer to help with maintenance work (small repairs only) in your unit rather than filing a maintenance request. Your landlord or property manager may be more willing to compromise on the cost of rent, as this will save them time and money on simple repairs.

While offers such as this may intrigue some landlords or property managers, it may not be enough to sway (or be acceptable for) big-time property management companies – but it never hurts to ask! In another scenario, you could offer to pay several months’ rent upfront. This will prove that you have the funds to pay a higher rent, but you’re just hoping to spend less on rent and save more for future endeavors. Depending on what situation the landlord or property manager is facing with their properties, they may be willing to make this type of compromise with you – more upfront for them equals less overall rent for you.

You may find that negotiating lease length is an option, as well. Maybe you were wanting to sign a six-month lease, but that rent was going for $1,300. But the landlord or property manager agrees to negotiate on rent with you, and comes back with a 12-month lease for $1,150. If you’re able to sign a year-long lease and stay put for a bit longer than you anticipated, then paying less in rent may work for you this way! You’ll be paying more overall, but you’ll also have a home for six extra months at a lower rate than what you’d be paying for a shorter lease. Weigh your options! 

Do your research and prepare supporting documents

Research the rental market

Research the rental market

Your achievement as an ideal tenant may not be enough to sway a tough property owner’s mind when it comes to rent negotiations. Another tactic that may work is comparing the rent you’re paying, or will pay, with other units in the area.

Spend a little time researching your local rental market and pull comps of units like yours with a lower price tag. This evidence can prove your rent is getting too high to remain appealing for the area. If you could find a similar or better unit for less than so could anyone else.

It’s best to lead with why you’re a good tenant who is deserving of a little break but backing it up with actual examples of price. This can show that you understand the value of your property and are willing to have a real conversation about rent.

Prepare a rental resume

A rental resume can give a new property owner clarity into what type of renter you are.

It can also remind your current property manager why they should keep you around. A solid rental resume should include information about you, including:

  • Credit score
  • Work history, including confirmation of current employment with income details and a contact for your employer
  • Education background
  • Information on pets and/or roommates
  • Rental history
  • Referrals or letters of recommendation

You may also want to make a note that you’re happy to provide extra documentation to confirm you financial status upon request. Being open and honest about who you are as a renter and what your current situation is can help put your property manager at ease. This makes them more comfortable and possibly more willing to talk about discounting the rent.

Click to download sample renter resume PDF

Click to download sample renter resume PDF

Click to download sample renter resume Word Doc

To expand on what your property manager sees on paper in your rental resume, it’s OK to brag a little about the qualities that make you a good tenant. Rent negotiation is a one-sided request. You’re asking your property manager for something without giving something back.

As a good tenant, which not everyone is, this approach helps you point out why it’s in your property owner’s best interest to keep you in your apartment, even if that means lowering the rent a bit. Certain highlights to hit when talking about yourself as an outstanding tenant include that you:

  • Always pay rent on time
  • Receive no complaints from neighbors for inappropriate behavior
  • Maintain a clean interior and exterior of your apartment
  • Address maintenance issues quickly and properly
  • Follow all apartment building rules

As your property manager recalls the value and respect you feel toward your apartment, they’ll most likely become more willing to negotiate.

Example of How to Negotiate Rent with Apartment Complex

Have you ever wondered does apartment rent ever go down, or could you ever get a rent DECREASE at your one-year renewal, in an apartment complex?

Well, Sean did.

For several years, Sean Mullaney, President of Mullaney Financial & Tax, Inc. (mullaneyfinancial.com) rented an apartment at an apartment complex in Arlington, VA. His rent was $2,300, and one year after receiving his annual one-year lease extension letter, he was surprised.

“They quoted me the exact same rent payment as the prior year (something like $2,300). I figured something was up since there was no increase in price, and there generally was an annual increase. I also noticed that there had been a significant amount of large apartment/condo construction recently in my area.”

His spidey sense went up.

So, what did Sean do? He went to his apartment complexes website (another benefit of apartment complexes that work in your favor), and found out that an apartment a floor or two above his as well as an apartment on a floor or two below his were going for approximately $300 less per month than what he was paying.

Sean decided to email his apartment manager.

“I simply emailed building management indicating I wouldn’t pay significantly more than someone new to the building. The thing was I had objective evidence my lease should be lower, so faced with the prospect of my not renewing, they lowered my rent to the prevailing market rent for someone new to the building. I got the rent lowered to approximately $2,000 per month for a 1 year lease.”

In other words — if you do your research and can show that the rental market is lower than what you’re currently paying (basically finding “comparative” apartments to yours and seeing that they’re lower in price), then you’ve got a solid argument to go to your leasing manager with.

So, how to get a discount on apartment rent? I’ve got 7 specific ways to negotiate with your landlord.

Frequently asked questions

What else can I ask for when negotiating rent?

Even if you can’t lower the rent price, you might be able to negotiate some perks that can still save you money. You can ask for lower pet rent or gym fees. Perhaps you can get a free parking spot or additional storage. Maybe the landlord would be willing to install a dishwasher or a washing machine in the apartment. Think outside the box about amenities you might like.

Can I negotiate rent with an apartment complex?

You may or may not be successful in negotiating rent with an apartment complex or negotiating rent with a property management company. Some complexes use dynamic pricing models that change each day depending on occupancy levels, and they may be unwilling to deviate from their modeling. Others take a more traditional approach, setting prices and then negotiating them on a case-by-case basis. It never hurts to ask whether the price is firm!


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