How Can You Negotiate Your Rent? Tips for Getting the Best Deal

Imagine you’ve found your perfect rental. It’s in a great location, close to your work, and has all the amenities you could possibly want. However, there is one catch — it’s $100 more than the maximum you determined to spend on the apartment.

What do you do?

Decide to throw in this money and give up on a habit of getting morning coffee in Starbucks? Or, maybe, give up on the ideal rental instead? There is also a third option — to try and negotiate your rent.

Why Should You Negotiate Rent?

Of course, the example from above might be a stretch. However, we firmly believe that tenants should be aware that they can and should negotiate the rent. Wonder why it’s a good idea?

Many of us might feel uncomfortable with the concept of negotiation itself, as it reminds us of trying to get a better bargain on the market buying souvenirs. Some might agree that getting $100 off the rent is not worth speaking up and putting yourself out of your comfort zone.

Let’s try to look at the rent negotiation from a different perspective. 

First of all, none of us can deny that it’s nice to save a bit of extra money a month. Think about it, if $100 per month is not worth trouble, how about saving $1200 a year only thanks to a 10-minute conversation with the landlord?

And, if you’re worried that you might look strange in the eyes of your potential landlord or afraid to hear “no,” try to think of the worst-case scenario. What would happen if the landlord refuses to lower the rent? If you act in a respectful and polite way, there is no way their opinion of you would worsen. 

You do not lose anything except few minutes of time and, maybe, could feel embarrassed for a few moments. If you compare the pros and cons of negotiating rent, you can see that it is definitely worth speaking up and discussing the rent with the landlord! Read on to see how to make the negotiation process as smooth as possible, and what are some tactics to feel confident and achieve your goal of lowering your rent. 

Know the Rental Market

As in many other activities, preparation is a key and half of success. First of all, you should check out prices on the rental market to know if the discount amount is reasonable. Prices on rental properties might fluctuate over time, or even depending on the time of year, so make sure to see how much property managers charge for a similar place in a similar location. You can also check average and median prices on specific websites. For example, if you live in Los Angeles, you can use Rentberry to check the average renting price for each property type.

More like this: How to Stand Out in the Rental Application Process?

Think of What You Want to Achieve

Knowing precisely what you’d like to achieve and what’s the purpose of the negotiation will help you convey your point to the landlord and seem more assertive. That’s why you should think through all the points that seem essential for you.

1. Figure out what amount you want to knock down. Is it $50 or $150? 

2. Why do you think it should be this exact amount? Is it because of the rental market’s general pricing situation or, maybe, your personal needs? Is it your upper-limit to spend on the new rental, or you’re a long-term tenant who just lost one of the side gigs? 

3. Is there anything else you could take into the rent price equation? Maybe, you could pay less if you give up a parking space? Or, if you have a pet, perhaps you could agree on a slightly higher deposit and discard monthly pet rent? Dedicate ten minutes of your time to brainstorming, look at the issue from different perspectives, and find more than one solution you could offer to the property manager. 

Offer Something in Return

An award-winning author and psychologist Harvey Robbins once said, “Place a higher priority on discovering what a win looks like for the other person.” This tactic is one you should always keep in mind if you want your negotiation to succeed. Bring to the table not only your “wants” but other person’s “needs” as well.

Some landlords will be happy to offer you a slightly lower rate if you suggest paying for a few months in advance. Others might agree to it if you suggest signing the lease for a longer period or extending your termination notice period from 30 to 60 days. Analyze what can be their priorities at the moment, as it’s not always only about money, and see if there is a way for you to help out the landlord.

tips for rent negotiation

Keep the Conversation Going

Remember that another element of a successful negotiation is the conversation itself. If you hear from the landlord, “sorry, I cannot afford it right now,” don’t say “oh well” and leave. Instead, ask if there is anything you can do to convince them. It would also be the best time to bring up those other options you’ve thought about, such as giving up parking if you don’t even have a car. Ask open questions, be prepared to give some alternatives, and remember to mention what, in your opinion, they might gain from this arrangement. And, of course, stay polite and respectful, no matter if you get the deal you want or not!

Rent Negotiation as a New Tenant

So, you’ve already got some insight on how to make negotiating rent as simple and smooth as possible. But, there are a few more pieces of advice on negotiating your first rent with a new landlord:

  • Negotiate in person or using dedicated tools

The best way to approach the negotiation with your potential landlord is by offering them to meet face-to-face. This way, you can see the other person’s reaction and achieve a better level of connection. What’s more, it is usually difficult for people to refuse something if the opponent is sitting right in front of them.

In case you can’t meet, opt for using a tool for rent negotiation. This way, you can see other offers, customize your proposal with a written letter, and include some prior landlords’ references. 

  • Bring some hard proof

Don’t expect the property manager to take your word for it. If you notice that other similar apartments are cheaper, print out a few listings to prove your point. Similarly, if you claim that you’re an exemplary tenant, print out references from your previous landlord or neighbors. Try to back each of your points with some tangible examples. You might not need it, but it’s better to be over than underprepared. 

More like this: How Much Should You Spend on Rent?

Rent Negotiation as a Current Tenant

If you’ve lived in your rental for some time, it might seem like you don’t have much leverage to negotiate the rent. This is not exactly true, and it all depends on your relationship with the landlord and the arguments you’ll prepare. Here are some useful tips:

  • Negotiate two or three months before your lease expires. 

Don’t wait for the moment when you’ll both be deciding if you should prolong your lease. Instead, have this conversation in advance, so you’d have enough time to find a new apartment if something goes wrong. It also feels easier for people to make adjustments to the paperwork if you have to sign a new lease anyway. 

  • Bring up your past credit.

Can you call yourself a good tenant? Did you pay rent on time and informed a property manager about all necessary maintenance straight away? Never had a complaint from your neighbors? Great! Make sure to mention this as one of your arguments during negotiation. Usually, if you’re a good and responsible renter, a landlord themself would want to keep you to avoid the potential schlepping of searching for a new occupant. First of all, they might not be as lucky the second time. And, also, there is a money issue — tenant turnover cost equals $2,500 on average

Negotiating your rent can seem a challenging undertaking that requires lots of strategy and preparation. It’s true that an average Joe might not have all the skills to be brilliant at negotiations. But remember, it is definitely worth a try! Be confident, think through some points beforehand, and be open to a discussion. Good luck!

Author Bio: Mariia Kislitsyna serves as an editor and writer for the Rentberry and Landlord Tips Blogs, dedicating the majority of her time to finding great new cities and interesting real estate information to write about. As a polyglot and literature fanatic, she also enjoys writing about culture, travel, and career, and she’s been featured in and written for a variety of publications across the web.

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