Should you negotiate your rent?

Can you negotiate rent if you haven’t done so before? If you’re not used to haggling, you’re probably feeling a little nervous about the thought of putting yourself out there. After all, it’s a big step and one that’s outside of most peoples’ comfort zones, and results will vary from person to person and it will depend on many different factors (including location and your desired apartment or unit).

But in our opinion, it’s 100% worth it to negotiate rent and get the best price possible for your new home. Since rent prices make up a large portion of our expenses, shaving off even a small percentage of your rent can save you thousands of dollars a year. What could you do with that extra spending money? That’s the beautiful thing about saving money – it opens up opportunities that never existed before!

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When to Negotiate Rent

Regardless of how badly you want to get your rent rate lowered, timing and situation are some of the most important keys in a successful negotiation. If you don't time it right, you won't get it right.

Here are some of the best times to negotiate your rent:

  • At the end of the month when landlords are looking for new tenants or if you're considering a new apartment.
  • A few months before your lease expires, if you're negotiating rent on your current unit.
  • When you know you can stay longer. Many landlords are willing to negotiate if they know they won't have to look for another tenant in the next 12 months.
  • In the winter. Seasonality impacts the rental market. Winter is usually the most difficult time for landlords to find renters, and you'll hold more of the bargaining power.

4. Instead of negotiating for a lower rent payment, try asking for other perks, like free parking or free storage space

Alon Ceng / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com A lower payment is nice and all, but evaluating your situation could open your eyes to some other must-haves that’ll help you live more comfortably at a lower cost to you. Maybe you need a car for work and you’d be willing to pay full price for rent in exchange for a free, guaranteed parking spot. Some other rental concessions you could potentially negotiate for include a free storage unit, waived pet fees, a reduced or waived security deposit, a paid-for broker’s fee, free utilities, updated appliances, and more.

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.

Offer to end the lease in the summer

Landlords know the summer is usually an easier time to find tenants. Since most people have more flexible schedules then, such as recently graduated college students looking for first apartments, there are simply more people looking for rental spaces. Offering to end your lease in the summer can be an attractive option for a landlord, and they might be willing to shave prices in exchange for the convenient end date.

2. Keep in mind that an independent landlord might negotiate differently than a property management company

Nickelodeon / Via giphy.com Some scenarios will allow you more flexibility when it comes to negotiating. If you want the best chance at successfully lowering your rent, you might find that an independent landlord can be more receptive. “A manager from a big company may be handcuffed by corporate policies they can’t get around, so you will probably be less successful in that negotiation,” Walker said. “A landlord who owns one or two buildings can be more flexible and can work to satisfy both your needs.” That’s not to say that you should just totally give up on pursuing a rental through a management company. Either way, you should keep in mind that negotiating means having an open conversation — it does not mean barking up a list of demands and getting a “yes” or “no” immediately. It’s a give-and-take process, and regardless of the outcome, you should be proud of yourself for even making an attempt!

Highlight your strengths as a tenant

If you’re looking for a new place, make sure to inquire about rent concessions. Rent concessions are benefits offered by the landlord to tenants such as move-in specials. You can also show you’re financially stable by offering the landlord a few concessions, such as paying a few months of rent in advance or signing on for a longer lease which saves the landlord money in turnover.

In the case of a rent increase, you should remind the landlord what a reliable, responsible tenant you’ve been. If you’ve always paid your rent on time, are courteous to other tenants and have kept the property in good shape, make sure your landlord knows it. It can help prove your worthiness and give them an incentive to keep your current rent.

5. Rent isnt the only thing you can negotiate

While some landlords might be unwilling to negotiate on rent, that doesn't mean they won't make concessions. You can ask your landlord to cover a utility you normally pay for each month or if they will replace old appliances with newer versions.

Even if you are happy with the rent you pay and don't have any issues with your apartment, that doesn't mean you can't ask for something. Mohamed recommends asking landlords if they would offer a rent credit for referrals, explaining that in many cases landlords might be happy to throw a $500 credit your way if you bring them a new lease.

"Ultimately, you don't get what you don't ask for," she says. "I think every tenant right now in this market should be trying to get some kind of concession in any way they can."

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 which say you pay your rent on time and don’t cause problems. Get letters that speak to your character from a former boss, neighbor, someone in a non-profit organization or your 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.

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.

How You Can Negotiate Your Rent

Now that you know the best time to negotiate your rent and what to ask for, we need to address tactics. Negotiating isn’t easy for everyone. And if you’re going to get the edge and save on your rent, you need to be prepared. Here are some tips to help you get the best results.

1. Do Your Research

Before you do anything else, check the price of flats in your neighborhood. Look for apartments of similar size and quality. And compare the prices to your own. If the housing market values your area to more than what you would pay, chances are, you can’t negotiate a lower rent easily.

It’s also worth considering how much you’re willing to pay. Always approach your rent negotiations with a price limit. 

2. Prepare Your Bargaining Chips

Although you may get lucky, it’s doubtful that your landlord will just drop the price out of the kindness of their heart. As a tenant, you have certain bargaining power when it comes to negotiating your rent.

3 things you can offer your landlord to convince them to lower your rent:

  • Offer to stay for longer: Landlords love a reliable tenant who stays for a long time. If you can imagine yourself staying in the same apartment for 2-3 years, make sure you mention that.
  • Offer to pay in advance: If you’re in a financial position to pay rent several months in advance, you can negotiate to pay your rent with a discount.
  • Offer to buy/do something that raises the property’s value: Whether it’s painting the walls or investing in a new TV, landlords appreciate a tenant who takes care of their property. Offer a service like this to lower the price of your rent.

3. Contact Your Landlord or Property Manager

Once you’re ready, contact your landlord or property manager. Don’t attack them with demands to lower your rent immediately. Instead, send them an email or a text asking to talk about something concerning your lease. 

This is crucial. How you approach and talk to your landlord could easily make or break your case. So, you want to set the right stage for your negotiations.

4. Be Clear, Respectful, and Patient

Your success depends on clear communication. Remain respectful, calm, and professional when you’re talking to your landlord. This can help you better negotiate your rent while building a stronger relationship between you and your landlord.

5. State Your Case

First, explain why you’d like your rent lowered. Perhaps the housing market adjusted. Or you found flaws in your apartment that lower its value. If you can back up your claim with evidence, your landlord may be more inclined to help you.

6. Explain How Your Landlord Will Benefit

You can’t expect your landlord to give up their earnings easily. Make sure you include why you think you paying them less actually benefits them. This is the time to pull out your bargaining chips. Stay longer, pay in advance, or offer to fix something in exchange for their goodwill.

7. Put It in Writing

This is perhaps the most important step in negotiating. Once you convinced your landlord and they agreed to lower your rent, make sure you have the agreement in writing. Whether that’s in a new lease, a renewed contract, or additional paperwork, make sure you both sign it legally.

Should your landlord change their mind later, you need to have their consent in writing.The last thing you want is to have legal troubles after you’ve taken the time to negotiate your rent..

8. Use a Rental Negotiation Site

Negotiating your rent isn’t easy. You need to research, haggle, and bargain to make it happen. While the reward is great if you succeed, there’s a risk that your landlord won’t budge despite your best efforts.

You can skip all seven steps by just using a rental negotiation site like Brixbid.

Landing: your hassle-free, haggle-free rental option

For most people, negotiating rent with your landlord is a conversation fraught with anxiety. That said, there are ways to make negotiating rent as easy and carefree as talking about the weather.

To successfully negotiate rent, it’s important to heed the above tips. Or, you could bypass this conversation altogether by choosing Landing

A rental option unlike any other, Landing, provides fully furnished apartments with flexible lease terms. This flexibility means negotiating rent’s a thing of the past—the ball’s always in your court. Sign up today and start living haggle-free tomorrow.

About the author

Bri Hand Bri Hand is Landing’s Content Marketing Manager. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her partner and dog, Arlo, but relishes any opportunity she can to travel so she can try new foods, see gorgeous sights, and daydream about living somewhere new after visiting there for less than 24 hours.

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