How to negotiate cheaper rent: Just ask
You may be able to lower your biggest fixed expense each month by following these tips.
Housing is the biggest expense for everyone on average income and costs for renters are growing. While home prices rose 3% from 2014 to 2015, rent costs grew 4%, reported CNN Money.
But these increases make it even more important for renters to negotiate the terms of their leases. Knowing how to negotiate apartment rent will help you keep this cost as low as possible, even as rent affordability worsens. This renter’s guide to negotiating will help you get the best deal on your next lease.
1. Just Ask
The first step in negotiating apartment rent is simply starting the conversation. “The reason most renters don’t get the rent lowered is because they fail to ask,” said Alex Stern, a Florida attorney who represents tenants in rental disputes. “in most instances, asking doesn’t hurt.”
When checking out apartments or sending in an application, ask if the property manager or landlord would be open to rent negotiations, or bring up your concerns to see if they’re willing to address them.
2. Comparison Shop Similar Apartments
One of the most effective arguments for a rent decrease is to show that the asking price is too high for the local market. Roshawnna Novellus, Ph.D., president of Novellus Financial, said she “successfully negotiated a monthly rent from R8,650 to R8,050 when it was time to renew a lease on an apartment.” She pointed out her excellent payment history and “the rental price trends for the community that I found on property sites.”
3. Check Vacancy Rates
If the complex or property management company has an abundance of listings for vacant properties, this is a sign they are having trouble getting and keeping tenants in their units. In her negotiations, Novellus mentioned the “excess of available rentals in (her) condo complex.”
Vacant units mean the lessor is losing out on rent income and needs to incentivize new or existing tenants to stay in the community. This gives a potential renter some leverage to negotiate a lower rent.
4. Negotiate When Renewing Your Lease
If you have a solid payment record with your current landlord, try to negotiate a lower rent — or at least avoid a rent hike — when you renew your lease. If you’re trying to negotiate rent on your current place, contact your landlord a few months out from the date your lease is set to end. This will still give you time to look for a new place if the lessor won’t budge.
For landlords, keeping a renter they know will pay on time is much more cost effective than finding a replacement that might prove to be unreliable. Meanwhile, choosing to stay where you currently live helps you save on the high cost of moving.
5. Prove You’re a Perfect Tenant
Landlord, motivational speaker and author Barry Maher said he is willing to lower rent “when I have the perfect tenant, one likely to stay for years without causing problems.” If you’re looking to talk a landlord down on rent, shoot to make a great first impression and prove you make a great tenant. Show up to meetings well dressed and on time, and come prepared with information that helps your case, like references from past landlords and proof of income.
6. Get Time on Your Side
“Timing and preparation can really increase your chances of either negotiating rent or finding better prices,” said Alex Larsen, COO of Roomi, an app that helps people find co-living solutions.