Renting a home is one of the largest expenses many people will face when they move to a new city. If you happen to live in an area with strict rent control laws, negotiating your rental agreement may seem like it’s impossible. However, there are ways for renters and landlords alike to negotiate their agreements without breaking any laws or risking eviction.

Rent is a topic that many people are interested in. Some people say that you can negotiate rent, while others say it’s not possible. The truth is, it really depends on the apartment complex.

Can you really negotiate rent?

The unexpected response? Yes.

It may seem frightening (or simply futile). However, with a little study and planning, you may be able to negotiate your monthly rent and get a better offer.

The going rate of similar rentals in your region, the value you show to your landlord, and the status of the rental market and economy in general will all affect your prospects of effectively decreasing your rent.

Try some of these clever negotiation strategies to decrease the difficulty of bringing up the issue (because, sure, haggling can be uncomfortable) and enhance your chances of sweetening your offer.

Related: House Price Negotiation

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The Advantages of Rent Negotiation

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The obvious benefit of lowering your rent is having more money at the end of the month.

However, you should think about the long-term rewards as well. Assume you’ve successfully negotiated a $100 reduction in your monthly rent.

Of course, having an additional $100 is good. However, those monthly savings build up to $1,200 over the course of a year.

Let’s assume you used that $1,200 a year toward paying off credit cards or college loans (rather than paying the minimum).

You may be able to save a lot of money on interest payments while simultaneously improving your credit score (which could help you save money in the future by helping you to get loans and credit cards with better terms).

What Credit Score Will You Need to Rent an Apartment in 2022?

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Putting money aside for a down payment

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You might put the $100 saved each month into a checking and savings account and start saving for a down payment on a house (if you’d rather own than rent), an emergency fund, or another savings goal.

If you put an additional $100 each month into your 401k or other retirement account, you may have a substantial income stream decades from now. (If you currently contribute to these accounts, keep in mind the yearly contribution restrictions.)

Furthermore, learning to bargain develops a lifetime talent of advocating for yourself and cutting better deals as an experienced negotiator, which may pay off in various aspects of your life.

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Correct Timing

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As eager as you may be to make a solid deal as soon as possible, timing your approach to optimize your chances of success might be beneficial.

That requires bargaining at the correct times, when your landlord is more willing to work with you.

Those who are timed may include:

  • When previous renters have departed the property and your landlord has the security of a long-term tenant at the end of the month.
  • Approximately 90 days before your current lease ends. That gives you ample time to offer to sign another lease, but only on your terms. If you’ve been a good tenant and the market for new renters is slow, your chances of getting a cheaper rent are better.
  • At the start of each calendar year. Winter is often a sluggish season for property rentals, particularly in colder regions where relocation is more difficult, and landlords may have a tougher time finding new renters. Stepping into the void and offering to remain another year–at a cheaper monthly rental rate–might give you some newfound clout.

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Understanding the Costs of Competitors

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Knowing the lay of the land will help you develop your case when asking your property owner regarding a rental discount.

If you can show that you could live for less money in a neighboring apartment, your landlord could be more willing to give you a break rather than lose your business to the competition.

As a result, it’s a good idea to conduct some research and go through web listings to see what similar flats or homes in the region rent for.

Perhaps a comparable one-bedroom apartment for rent provides an amenity that your current or prospective apartment does not. You may argue that because of these considerations, the landlord’s rental conditions are somewhat higher than the prevailing market rate.

It may be helpful to have a copy of similar apartments with somewhat cheaper rent on hand when speaking with the landlord, especially if the property has been vacant.

You may also wish to see how much other flats in the same complex or from the same landlord are presently renting for. This may help you avoid overpaying for an apartment and perhaps even negotiate a cheaper rent.

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Offering a One-Time Payment

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If you can afford it, making a lump-sum payment – say, three months’ rent in advance – will help you negotiate more effectively and reduce your total rent payment.

This is because many landlords like to have their rent in hand and not have to worry about renters paying late or not at all.

Furthermore, providing a lump-sum payment upfront is one way to demonstrate to a landlord that you’re serious about being a good tenant.

A landlord may be more inclined to work with a renter who is prepared to go above and above – and is more likely to agree to a rental reduction.

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Consider Extending Your Lease

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You might offer the landlord a longer lease in return for reduced rent payments if you really appreciate the home or apartment you’re renting.

If a landlord, for example, offers a new tenant a 12-month lease at a set monthly rental price and you agree to extend the lease to 18 or 24 months, you may be in a better position to negotiate a rental reduction.

When everything else is equal, landlords prefer long-term renters and are more inclined to approve a lower rate for a longer lease.

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Taking Advantage of a Referral

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Landlords dislike vacant apartments, so if you can help fill one with a reference or two, you’ll be in a stronger negotiation position to ask for a rental price reduction in exchange.

To lease their vacant flats, landlords frequently have to pay for classified advertisements. Furthermore, landlords are often required to invest time and effort in displaying apartments, pursuing tenant leads, and evaluating possible lease applications.

You may be able to become a useful asset to your landlord by bringing in reputable, qualified, and consistent tenants, as well as assist establish a stronger case for a rental deduction.

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Not only looking at the price

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Yes, lowering the price is the major purpose of a rental discussion.

However, if that discussion remains unproductive, you may want to explore asking for additional perks or bonuses in place of a rent decrease.

Some suggestions:

  • A fantastic parking spot (especially in urban areas.)
  • In your house or apartment, new appliances and/or fittings.
  • Storage space that is new or greater.
  • When nicer apartments or houses in your community become available, you’ll have “first dibs.”
  • Fees and costs for gym memberships, parking privileges, community rooms, water or garbage pickup, and other services and facilities are waived.
  • Guests will get additional parking cards.
  • allowing you to sublease your apartment for the summer (if you plan to be away).
  • Free for one or two months

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Being Polite and Giving Your Landlord Notice

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Nobody enjoys being caught off guard when it comes to money. That’s why calling your landlord far ahead of the lease’s due date and respectfully stating that you’d want to review the conditions of the lease and are wondering if they’d be open to a price decrease could be more successful.

You could then propose meeting sometime in the following week or two (in person is preferable since it’s easier to say “no” to someone when you’re sitting face to face).

This allows your landlord time to think about the problem while also allowing you to prepare your case.

Furthermore, giving your landlord some notice demonstrates that you’ve given the situation some thought––and that you respect your landlord’s time and schedule.

Remember that although you have the right to negotiate rent as a tenant, being diplomatic and courteous to your landlord will generally offer a better outcome than being pushy.

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Highlighting Your Tenant Value

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Making a strong argument for keeping you on (or bringing you in) as a tenant when you meet with your landlord to discuss the terms of your lease may be beneficial.

For instance, you may wish to keep track of all your on-time payments, your excellent credit score, and any previous history of referring this landlord.

You may also state your readiness to renew your lease, that you’re respectful of other renters, that you maintain the property in excellent condition, and any other positive attributes.

Any or all of these considerations might convince your landlord to improve your lease.

Image credit: istockphoto/gpointstudio

Putting Your New Rental Contract in Writing

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It’s a good idea to have the contract in writing if you’ve successfully bargained your rent down – or otherwise improved the conditions of your lease– and have a verbal agreement.

If there is a misunderstanding later on, having both parties sign the new rental agreement gives you with formal evidence that you have a new arrangement in place.

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The Conclusion

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While rental agreements seem to be carved in stone, they are more flexible than many tenants believe, particularly if the rental market in your region is down (meaning more rentals than renters).

If you can prove two things: that the rent is higher than comparable apartments in the neighborhood, and that you are a model tenant who pays rent on time, you may be able to negotiate a lower price when looking for a new apartment or signing a new lease on your present rental.

If your landlord is adamant about the price, it’s also a good idea to offer some alternatives to a rent decrease, such as a better or free parking spot, new appliances, or eliminating the on-site gym membership charge.

More information:

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O’Connell, Brian

O’Connell, Brian is a freelance writer and contributor at Experian.com.

If you are looking for a luxury apartment, you might be asked if you can negotiate the rent. The answer is yes, but it depends on what type of apartment you are looking for and how much the landlord wants to charge. Reference: can you negotiate rent in luxury apartments.

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  • do you negotiate rent before or after application
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