Rent is one of most people’s biggest monthly expenses. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to shave $50 or $100 off of your monthly payment and put that money toward something fun and exciting?A lot of apartment dwellers think that the prices they see on listings are fixed, but rent is often quite negotiable. Of course, not every landlord will be willing to make a deal, but it never hurts to ask. Here are some tips that are sure to increase your chances of saving some cash on your next lease:
When to Negotiate
If you’re looking for a new rental, you’ll usually have more luck getting a good deal during the slow season. In most areas, this means the winter months from November to March. Landlords will be much more willing to negotiate with you when you’re the only person inquiring about a space. During the busy season, by contrast, you’ll be competing with several eager people who will likely pay full price just to snatch a new listing up.
Those who are happy in their current apartments might consider negotiating their next lease renewal. If you’ve been a great tenant so far, you’ll be at an advantage when speaking to your landlord about a price change. People who have demonstrated their reliability by paying their rent on time and respecting the property are always going to be safer bets than new residents. When arranging the meeting, keep in mind that all landlords like keeping good tenants and don’t like taking risks on strangers. Be sure to start negotiating well before the end of your current lease to give both you and your landlord enough time to discuss and think things over, and for you to find another living situation if absolutely necessary. Remember, it can be just as beneficial to negotiate a price increase down as it is to lower a stable rent.
Think About Them
When haggling with anyone, it’s important to remember that you are speaking to another human being that has their own set of needs and feelings. Naturally, it can be easy for landlords to think “why should you get a reduced rent over anyone else?” Be sure to stress the perks of your tenancy. Would you be willing to sign a longer lease in the winter so that your landlord’s next vacancy would occur during the busy summer season? Are you planning on living there for multiple years? Are you simply a great, low-risk tenant with no kids, no pets, or no smoking habits? Be honest about what you can afford and what you need, but keep the focus of the conversation on the benefits your landlord will reap from signing the lease over to you.
It’s always helpful to do as much research as possible before beginning the negotiation process. Look up the cost of comparable units in the area and print the listings out to help build your case for lower rent. You’ll also want to know the community’s vacancy rate—it’s much easier to strike a bargain when you have a lot of other options to choose from should this landlord refuse to budge. When you’re ready to have a face-to-face conversation, bring any relevant documentation with you. The bigger your arsenal, the more likely you are to succeed in lowering your rent.
Give and Take
This is a basic principle of human exchanges. Everyone is more likely to give something if they feel like they’re getting something back. If you want your landlord to lower your rent, you’ll need to give them something valuable in return. Being a good tenant is a great start, but just a little creativity on your part will help you sweeten the deal even more. For instance, you could offer to sign a two-year lease agreement up front. A longer lease will save your landlord the hassle and cost of cleaning and relisting the unit in a year’s time. If you’re handy, you might be able to manage all your in-unit repairs and maintenance in exchange for lower rent. Barter any skills that you think your landlord would find useful, like landscape design or interior painting. Have a bit of extra cash on hand? You might be able to negotiate a lower monthly charge in exchange for a larger deposit or for providing two months rent up front. This demonstrates financial stability and shows the landlord that you’ll have no trouble making future payments.
Be Open to Other Options
If the landlord is unwilling to lower an apartment’s initial price, consider asking for some other money-saving deals. Are they willing to waive the gym membership fee or provide you a free parking or storage space? Maybe the landlord is willing to make a few repairs to the unit or equip it with some cost-effective upgrades before your move-in. For instance, they could install a new energy-efficient appliance or additional insulation into the apartment, which would lower your utility bills, increase your home’s sound-proofing, and make the overall space more comfortable.
Show Your Good Side
When negotiating cheaper rent, it’s important to remember that you must sell yourself as the ideal tenant. Look and act the part! When discussing business, always try to schedule an appointment with the landlord in advance. Dress nicely and be prepared to provide references or proof of your positive attributes, such as past rental payment history or professional documentation.
Negotiating rent can be a little intimidating, but remember that hearing “no” is the worst thing that’s going to happen. You won’t save any money if you don’t ask, so take initiative and start the conversation. When it comes to monthly payments, even the smallest discount will go a long way. Good luck!