Landlords love long-term tenants who pay on time and who take care of the property. Keeping that in mind:
A long-term lease (2 or 3 years) is far more desirable than a 1-year lease. Committing to 2 or more years will give you additional negotiating clout. And you can try to use it in a number of ways--a lower initial rent, for instance, or no increase (or only a small pre-determined increase) in subsequent years.
Regarding paying on time, if the landlord isn't already requiring it, offer to permit automatic debits from your checking account in return for a slightly lower rent. Landlords don't like checking their mailboxes wondering if or when the rent check will appear. Allow it to appear in the landlord's account automatically . . . in return for a rent concession.
Landlords hate the 3 am phone call about the plugged-up toilet. There are a couple of ways to handle that. For instance, you can agree to handle and pay for all repairs under a certain dollar amount--say $50--in return for a rent concession. I've also heard of landlords who've set up a maintenance account, and if there's money in there at the end of the year, it's shared with (or given to) the tenant.
In general, focus on what the landlord wants: no vacancies, no hassles, and a dependable rent check.
Hope that helps.
The most they can do is say no. Rent rates like everything else are determined by the market. IF there's lots of availability then you are in a stronger position, however if good properties are scare, the owner is likely to hold firm to their price.
Don't get insulted and don't be insulting when you speak to the agent, come across professionally and sell yourself a little as a "great tenant."
Best of luck.
The landlord has fixed costs in operating that unit including HOA fees, Property Taxes, Insurance ("walls in" for condos) and their mortgage payment. Also they are paying a commission to the real estate agent for the lease and a management fee if the landlord has asked for property management services. Additionally the landlord will seek area market rents so your negotiating points will be tied to many of these issues.