If you’re a serial-renter, you may be experienced in the ways of lease renewals and rent increases. However, did you know you can negotiate with your landlord? While it may seem intimidating to barter on rent, the worst that can happen is they say no.
You may think, why would a landlord even accept less money? In some cases, landlords are willing to make exceptions, especially when the market is slow and their rentals are sitting empty.
Follow the helpful tips below to learn how to negotiate a rent increase.
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1. Understand the Market
Understand the current real estate and rental market in your area. Are listings sitting vacant for months at a time? If so, this is good news for you. In one poll, 61 percent of landlords said they would allow lower rent payments if there wasn’t competition for a property.
If your local market is slow, it’s the perfect opportunity to haggle on rent prices. This is less likely in spring and summer, so if your lease is up in winter, you might be sitting in a better position to approach this discussion with your landlord.
2. Have Comparisons Ready
Thanks to newspapers and the internet, it’s easy to find out what similar rentals are going for in your area. Simply plug in your town or city, the number of bedrooms you’re looking for and voila — you’ll get instant results with prices included.
If you’re looking at an apartment with a higher-than-average rental price, comparisons can be used to provide a counter-offer based on your research of the local market. Keep in mind that location isn’t the only price factor, however — if your unit features luxury amenities and top-notch appliances, your landlord isn’t going to be persuaded by the lower rent of a rundown property a block away.
3. Know the Rental History
If possible, request a rental history for your apartment. Find out if it’s been consistently rented or if there are gaps where it sat vacant.
If you live in an area where local authorities do not keep rental histories, start a conversation with neighbors and ask what they pay. You can leverage this information when walking into a negotiation.
4. Look for Deals
If you live in a complex offering deals to new residents, such as half off first month’s rent, ask for the same when you renew your lease.
Likewise, if other apartment buildings in your area are offering discounts to attract new residents, show these to your landlord and ask if they’d be willing to provide a similar deal.
5. Start the Conversation
Before you rush in with a carefully calculated counter-offer, first ask the landlord if they’re willing to negotiate on rent. You may find some can’t — or sometimes won’t — knock down prices. After all, rent is based on multiple factors, including taxes, maintenance costs and market factors. Your landlord isn’t going to risk going into negative cash flow on a property.
Try to start this conversation at least a month or two before your lease is set to end and try to pick a spot where you will be comfortable. Neuroscientists say holding the negotiation on home turf — your office, favorite coffee shop, the library — is an excellent way to boost confidence.
6. Show Off Your Record
Do you have a spotless rental record? You’re likely a bit of a unicorn in the real estate realm. Now is the time to show it off. Landlords are more willing to negotiate and make deals if it means keeping a good, regularly paying tenant.
Even if you don’t have a spotless record, point out some of the bad things you have never done, such as writing a bad check, damaging property or disturbing the neighbors. Your case won’t be as strong, but any time a landlord has to find a new tenant, they risk landing someone prone to these bad habits.
7. Get an Extended Lease
If you plan to stay, why not offer to sign a lease for more than one year? In some cases, a landlord may be willing to negotiate on price if you, the tenant, agree to stay for a more extended time. Before you offer, just make sure you’re happy with your location, job and living situation, or you’ll consider yourself stuck in a less-than-ideal apartment.
This is beneficial to the landlord because it’s a guaranteed income, guaranteeing that they won’t face income loss from extended vacancies. On your end, it can also help you if it means saving a few bucks.
8. Have Cash Upfront
Offering cash up front can be a useful negotiation tactic. Even well-known billionaires like Mark Cuban use the trick when they want to save money. “Negotiating with cash is a far better way to get a return on your investment,” says Cuban.
Okay, so learning how to negotiate a rent increase isn’t exactly big business. But it’s something to think about — who doesn’t love a guarantee? When negotiating for a fairer price, try offering several months of rent in cash upfront.
9. Give Something Up
One of the best ways to save money is to give something up. Is there something from the lease you can remove to cut down on costs?
Perhaps you don’t need that extra parking space, or maybe you don’t need a 24-hour pass to the complex gym. Either way, talk to the landlord about cutting back on amenities and save money. Cutting out any extras you might be paying for can make up for a higher rent, keeping your budget on track.
10. Offer Something in Return
One great tactic to save money on rent is to offer something to the landlord in return.
If you’re good with tools, offer to do small repairs around the apartment or complex. You could also be the on-site person tenants go to when they have an issue, allowing you to facilitate communication between the residents and the landlord. Of course, this tip largely depends on your handiness and trustworthiness, so make sure you have some proven experience before trying out this tactic.
How to Negotiate a Rent Increase
If you’re worried about talking to your landlord, try practicing your pitch on friends of a family member. Anticipate what they’re likely to say and how you can respond. The best way to learn how to negotiate a rent increase is to practice, so you’re more confident in the moment.
If all goes well, next year you’ll be living in the same apartment while also saving a few bucks each month.