August 20, 2018
Tagged in: Tips for Renters

It may seem too good to be true, but you may be able to negotiate a lower rent with your landlord or property manager. Many apartment hunters don’t bother trying because they assume that the advertised rent is simply what must be paid. Many tenants who fall in love with an apartment/rental home or find a suitable option after an exhausting search are understandably hesitant to haggle with a landlord for fear they’ll lose the opportunity.

Although it probably never hurts to try talking a landlord into lowering the rent, there are certain situations in which you’re most likely to be successful. Keep these in mind as you hunt for apartments:

You’re interested in a vacant apartment. It’s one thing if you’re looking to sign a lease for an apartment right after its current tenants leave. But if an apartment has been vacant for a while, it means the landlord should be hungrier to find a replacement. Keep in mind that for every month the apartment stays vacant, the landlord loses a month’s rent. So, the longer the vacancy, the greater your chances of convincing a landlord to cut you a break in the rent.

You’re looking for an apartment in a renter’s market. When you hear it said or you read about how we’re in a “renter’s market,” this means that apartment hunters like you generally have the upper hand. This is because there are too many vacancies in your area, too little demand, or perhaps some of both.

Landlords must be competitive to earn your business. Indeed, smart landlords think of ways to get that extra edge on the competition in a renter’s market. For instance, a landlord may offer a new amenity or offer concessions such as waiving a customary parking fee, paying the broker’s fee or giving new tenants a free month’s rent. If you’re interested in an apartment and the landlord isn’t offering any concessions, you’ll have a good chance of succeeding in negotiating a lower rent in a renter’s market.

Negotiating Tips and Strategies

A few things we’ve heard from different renters:

1) Know how the rental unit in question compares to others. Is it already priced higher or lower than similar properties? Find something about it that makes it “less desirable” than a comparable property.

2) Prepare for the conversation. Decide on the best and most realistic rent you want. If the place is advertised at $1300, decide if you want to aim for $1100. Also, decide your BATNA your Best Alternative To No Agreement. If the landlord doesn’t budge, are you really willing to pay $1300? Or is your absolute highest actually $1200? Make sure the price you offer to pay is lower than your BATNA, so there is room to concede and, well, negotiate.

3) Don’t come across as too eager. Remember that a property manager really wants a responsible, clean and employed tenant. So don’t take the advice of some bloggers who recommend you say you hope your landlord could reduce your rent so that you can better afford the apartment. This statement makes property managers wonder if you will have trouble down the road. Instead, say for example that you are looking at a couple other options and one of them has all the same amenities and is in a great location for $1100, and another one at $1200 includes all utilities (and be honest, real examples are better than make-believe ones!).

4) Put time on your side. The best time to negotiate is when you have not pressed for time yourself when you know you have another suitable option if worse comes to worse, and when you give the landlord the sense that you might jump on another option if you can’t get a deal. We talked to one renter in Iowa City who told us:

“I went into an apartment manager’s office on a Saturday morning to ask for $100 off the monthly rent, a specific corner 2nd-floor unit, with free wifi. I had also set up an appointment that afternoon at another apartment which offered competitive deals, and told the first agent that I’d much prefer to live at their place, and was ready to make out a check for deposit plus first month’s rent, but that I would feel bad canceling the afternoon appointment and needed to make a decision that day. This made the agent take me seriously.

She called the owner and spoke on my behalf it probably helped that the week before I had come prepared and given them a copy of my employment info verifying income, was dressed nicely (but not too nice!) and asked to see a lot of different units and take home some information they knew I was interested, but I stayed noncommittal. Anyway, it all worked out. I stuck to my guns even when she offered $50 off because I had already decided that that $100 off was what I wanted I would have been okay paying for wifi but she just threw that in as well as $100 off. A good negotiation saved me about $1500 this year!!!”

5) Remember, the art of negotiation is just that negotiation. This means you should be prepared to compromise, and it is important to state the deal that would be best for you first always make the first offer when you are negotiating down, rather than asking if they can cut you a deal. And include in your offer a few things that you would actually be okay without. For example, if what you really want is $100 off the rent, you could also ask for free parking. During the negotiation, you can offer to pay for parking so long as you get the rent reduction, and the landlord might feel like they have “won” something the best negotiation is when both parties walk away feeling like they have gained something.

Author Bio: Bernice Stockstill: I tutor students in English, reading comprehension, writing skills (grammar and style), and literary analysis, and also I am working as a copywriter at buy college research paper service.

If you liked this article, subscribe to Rentometer's email newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in rental housing.