Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jeff Proctor, a writer at DollarSprout.com. Is the apartment you want out of your budget and you’re wondering how to negotiate the rent price down? Maybe you’ve never considered negotiating rent. Many people associate negotiations with business deals or bargaining prices at a farmers’ market, but it’s
The post How to Negotiate Rent appeared first on The Zumper Blog.Hearst, Personal Finance, Rental Guides
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jeff Proctor, a writer at DollarSprout.com.
Is the apartment you want out of your budget and you’re wondering how to negotiate the rent price down? Maybe you’ve never considered negotiating rent. Many people associate negotiations with business deals or bargaining prices at a farmers’ market, but it’s also possible to negotiate your rent price. Your landlord operates as a business, after all, and they’re going to want to find a balance of happiness for their client and for themselves.
If you’re a current renter or are looking for a new apartment, here’s what you need to know to negotiate your lease and lower your rent.
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!
How to negotiate rent as a new tenant
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.
How to negotiate rent as an existing tenant
Admittedly, negotiating rent for an apartment you already live in is a bit harder (but not impossible). The biggest obstacle to overcome is the lack of leverage; you already live there, so why should your landlord drop your rent now? It’s all about how you frame the negotiation.
For starters, everyone’s life would be a bit easier if you just stayed. Assuming you’ve been a good tenant, your landlord likely wants to keep you around. You probably don’t want to deal with the hassle of moving out, either. With that in mind, it’s in both parties’ best interest to come to an agreement.
Here are the steps to take when negotiating lower rent as a current resident:
Do your research
Before doing anything else, is to see what the rent is for comparable apartments in your area. If you find that other places in your area are renting for less, start making a list of examples. The more data you have, the better. Obviously, if you find that you are already paying much less for your unit than the norm for your area, you may not have much luck in negotiating.
Put your request in writing
If interested in negotiating rent, now is the time to compose a formal email or letter to your landlord with your request. Use this letter as an opportunity to highlight your value as a renter, while including your research findings. Be polite and courteous but firm in your intention. When you’re ready to compose your correspondence, check out our sample letter for negotiating your rent to use for your rent proposal.
Counter if necessary
If your request to lower your rent comes back with a denial, don’t be afraid to continue the conversation with a counter offer. Consider adjusting the amount you had requested, or suggest a compromise. Perhaps you are in the position to sign a longer lease term if the new rent price is agreed upon. Landlords want to keep units occupied by responsible tenants, and may see the value in keeping you as a renter long term versus the time and hassle of filling a vacant unit.
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.
If nothing else, remember these tips
Negotiating in person is also an option
It’s much harder to say no to someone who’s sitting across from you than over the phone or through email. Having an in person conversation can allow your landlord to get to know you better and may help you Have your documents on hand
Bring prices for other units, your previous rent payment record, references from prior landlords, your credit score, and whatever else you need to build your case.If unable to negotiation a lower rent, negotiating amenities is also an option
The landlord may be unable to offer you a lower rent price, but there are other building and unit amenities that you can request. A free parking spot or having your utilities included could be concessions your landlord is willing to make. Have a game plan
Know exactly what you want to get out of it, whether it’s amenities, a rate reduction, or both.Remember the #1 rule of negotiation
Aim for more than you expect to receive, then meet somewhere in the middle.
Rent negotiations can be tricky. They don’t make for the most comfortable situations, and you might not have much experience bargaining. Just remember to be confident in your asks, realistic with your expectations, and respectful of your landlord throughout the process. If you can put together an offer where everybody wins, you are much more likely to get what you want.
Negotiating your rent can save you hundreds of dollars every month; it’s all about how you approach it. Find your next apartment on Zumper and remember these tips for negotiating your rent price when it comes time to sign the lease.