You love your apartment. Your neighbor bakes cookies and brings you the leftovers. There’s room to plant your own garden — and the cat? She’s never been happier.
But then one day you get a notice in your mailbox from your landlord informing you of a substantial rent increase. Hold up — what?
Unless your lease is about to end, in general, a landlord cannot increase the rent until your lease expires. If you feel as though you’ve been discriminated against or your rent is being raised in retaliation because you asked for something to be fixed and your lease is NOT ending, it may be time to call Judge Judy. (OK, you may not have to go that far, but it’s important to know what’s outlined in your lease and if your tenant rights are being compromised.)
But many times an annual rent hike is just a matter of your landlord and his or her business goals. So before you hastily light that rent notice ablaze in the fireplace (oh, you can’t give up that fireplace!), here are a few tips for negotiating your rent increase.
Convince the Landlord of Your Worth
You’ve been a good tenant, not a doily has ever been out of place — ever. Remind your landlord of your timely payments and any extra work you’ve done to maintain your unit. It may also help to inform your landlord that you really want to stay and you’re not one of those tenants always looking for the next best rental. You are committed.
Sign a Long-Term Lease
One tactic to convince a landlord of your worth and willingness to stick around is to offer to sign a two-year lease. Amy Wolfenberger of Portland, OR, enjoyed living in her apartment, but before she knew it, it was time to renew her lease and the landlord wanted to raise her rent by $50 each month.
“The talk really went in my favor, because at the end of the day, a landlord wants a reliable income rather than a high one, so I offered to sign a lease for two years,” says Wolfenberger. “Plus, they know I really care for their place and the yard.”
She reminded him she was committed to being an excellent and long-term tenant and ended up signing a new lease for $25 less than her original rent — proof that talking it out does work!
Know the Market
Remind your landlord of the rental prices around you. Check in with your neighbors, ask friends, and research apartments and typical lease terms in your area. It may be possible to negotiate a less substantial increase (which is better than having to pack up and move) when you’re able to cite average rental rates around you.
Pay More Upfront
Show your landlord the money! Sway your landlord from raising your rent by paying a few months in advance. At first, a rent hike may seem like the landlord will make more money over time, but once he sees the immediate payout of your prepayment, it may be hard to refuse your offer.
Get Mushy — Bring Up Community
This isn’t exactly like crying when you get pulled over by the police — but not too far off. Remind your landlord that if your rent is increased and you have to move, he might be breaking up a tightknit community of neighbors who look out for both the property’s well-being and the neighborhood, too.
Talking with your landlord face to face can help remind him that you’re more than a monthly rent check and that you care about staying in the community. And you won’t have to miss another batch of double chocolate chips.