It’s easy to assume the posted price of an apartment is the price of the apartment—end of story. But guess what? That’s not the case. Negotiating rent is common, and it’s a smart way to make a great rental fit into your budget.
Yes. Each landlord will differ in how receptive they are to negotiating rent, but it happens a lot. Often landlords build risk into their rental rates so they can afford it when a renter is late or breaks their lease. If your rental application is super strong, you have a little leverage: landlords love a reliable, financially stable renter.
Some people think negotiations are the time to be aggressive. But understand there is a difference between being confident that you are a desirable renter and being rude. This is (hopefully) the beginning of a long-term relationship with your landlord. Be polite and professional. You have the right as a renter to negotiate rent — but diplomacy and tact are how you’ll seal the deal.
Explain your strengths as a renter.
The only way a landlord will lower rent for you is if you are someone they’d really like in their property. Explain to them why they should: highlight your positive history of making rental payments on time, taking good care of past apartments, and if you’d like to rent the apartment for multiple years, make sure they know that — it’ll save them time and money hunting for new tenants. Offer them contact information for past landlords so they can confirm how great you are to work with.
Let them know you have options.
During your apartment search, you probably found a few places you would be open to renting. During your discussion about negotiating rent, make sure it’s clear—in a respectful way—that their rental is one of a few you’re considering. If the landlord believes they’re your only option, they won’t feel the need to lower the rate.
Pick the right offer.
What’s the right number to offer when negotiating rent? It can’t be so low that it’ll insult the landlord or make them think you’re uninformed. But it should be a little lower than your ideal rental rate to give you room for compromise. Research other properties in the area and pick the just-right number as your starting offer. Of course, your budget matters too. Our guide on figuring out how much rent you can afford is a great place to start.
Leverage other properties’ amenities.
Here’s where your diplomacy really needs to shine. A good argument for lowering rent is that other places in the area have more to offer for the same or lower rent. For example, you might explain how you’d really love to rent this apartment because it’s so close to work, but then again, a building across town offers a pool and a gym membership for the same price. This can help the landlord see how lowering rent will help you make your decision.
Offer the landlord something of value.
Often landlords will say there simply isn’t room in their budget to negotiate rent. But you’re still not out of options: Landlords have plenty of monthly expenses that you could offer to help with. You could mow the lawn, for example. If you’re handy, you could offer to refinish the rental’s scuffed-up wood floors. Not sure how you can help? Ask. Perhaps the landlord has been meaning to build a website. If you’ve got the right skills, your time could be worth dollars off your rent.
Be open to adjusting your lease.
Is there anything in the lease the landlord would prefer to be different? If you’re willing to compromise on those, they may be more open to negotiating rent. Maybe you can commit to a longer lease term, or adjust the end date with a time when the landlord is likely to have an easier time finding another tenant.
Take non-monetary concessions.
So maybe the landlord really doesn’t want to bend on price. Okay—where else could you find value in your arrangement that won’t cost them any extra? If you plan to have frequent visitors, maybe they could give you an extra parking pass. Or if you might be gone over the summer, see if they’ll allow you to sublet the apartment.
Try again later.
The day you sign your lease doesn’t have to be the end of negotiating rent. If you’ve been a stellar renter, open up a new conversation with your landlord to negotiate rent a few months before your lease will end. It costs landlords money to find and prepare for new renters. If you’re a reliable, responsible tenant and resigning your lease saves them those costs, you’re in a good position to negotiate rent.
If you’ve landed on a great rate after negotiating rent, it’s time to think about protecting your stuff once you’re in your new place. Read up on renters insurance to learn how.