If you have ever rented an apartment, you're aware of how expensive it can be. And, if you're like most people, you probably think that the price of housing is one of those inflexible, non-negotiable costs in life. However, like almost every other household expense, the cost of your rent may be negotiable.
In fact, if you are in the market for a new apartment, negotiating the price of your rent should be on your list of things to do before signing on the dotted line. If you are already in a lease, you may also be able to negotiate a lower monthly rate by using a few strategic talking points.
If you'd like to chip away at your monthly expenses, check out the following six tips on how to negotiate a cheaper rent.
Negotiate a Lower Rent With These Tips
1. Offer to Pay Your Rent Annually
If you're in a financial position to do so, offer to pay the entire year of rent up front. Property managers love this, as it frees them from any worry that your payments will come in late. They also get more value because they can invest those funds earlier than they would be able to otherwise. Ask for a reasonable discount in your lease rate or a free month of rent in exchange. Just make sure you have the funds ready to go before you propose this idea to the landlord.
2. Negotiate a Longer-Term Lease
Are you on a one-year term agreement? If you propose signing a three-year deal, for instance, you might be able to get a cheaper rate. Just make sure you actually plan on staying in the apartment for the full duration of the lease. If there's a chance you could be hit with a job transfer, hold off on this strategy. You don't want to get socked with early termination fees or be required to pay the remaining length of the lease.
3. Mention Your Loyalty
I once lived at an apartment complex with a high turnover rate — it wasn't hard to notice the moving vans constantly pulling in and out of the parking lot. When the next rate hike came my way, I simply mentioned that I was a loyal customer and highlighted the fact that I had lived there for a number of years. Property managers appreciate tenants who are loyal renters for multiple years in a row. If you have lived at your current apartment for two or more years, highlighting this fact to your landlord could actually translate into savings. I averted a $40 per month rent increase simply by taking this step.
4. Provide Professional Services
Can you cut grass or perform clerical work? Try offering your professional services to your landlord in exchange for a break on your rent. You might also be able to negotiate a lower rate if you can assist the landscapers or maintenance crews, too. As long as you can offer up some value to your landlord, you're in a position to save some money.
5. Do Your Homework
Research the market in your area. Use the Internet to research similar homes for rent in your neighborhood on sites like Rent or Apartment List. If folks in the vicinity are renting apartments of a similar size and value at a lower rate than you, mention that fact the next time you're presented with a lease renewal. To be even more convincing in your argument, highlight specific differences between your apartment and similar ones in the area to support your case for paying a lower rent. For example, if other apartments have laundry in-unit and your apartment does not, this could be reason enough for a lower monthly rent.
6. Negotiate an Early Payment Discount
Apartment managers hate late payments, and if they can count on you to pay early every month, they can factor that into their cash flows and forecasts. Offer to commit to paying your rent on an agreed-upon schedule in exchange for a discount. If you're concerned about being able to pay your rent early each month, consider negotiating with your other bills and expenses to shift around the due dates. If you can save money on a larger ticket item like your monthly rent, all of this effort will be worthwhile.
Although some experts suggest that you keep a threat to move in your arsenal of negotiating weapons, I advise against it. You can certainly mention your market research, but by suggesting that you're willing to relocate, you put yourself on thin ice with your landlord. If you end up staying, the property manager might remember your conversation the next time you need something fixed.
Do all you can to negotiate a reasonable discount on your rent and when you do, you'll be able to put those savings toward other bills like credit cards and education loans, for instance. However, in your negotiations, make sure you are keeping the conversation light and that you're showing your landlord how valuable you are to him as a tenant. The more value you bring to your landlord, the likelier he will be to give you a great discount on your rent.
What other ways could you negotiate a lower rent?
About the Author: Fred Greenfield is a writer and investment banker with over 20 years of experience in the banking industry. He also writes regularly about finances for a variety of publications. He lives and works in New York City.
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