Many first-time renters don’t know how to negotiate lower rent and end up overspending. Let’s face it, the majority of people simply hate negotiating. As humans, we’re afraid of that big-old “no.” Whether it be in our personal relationships or business proceedings, we hate rejection. But negotiation doesn’t sound so bad when it can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars each year. Be it a tiny efficiency apartment or a penthouse suite, there’s always some room for negotiation.
If you’re wondering how to negotiate rent, you need a game plan. Unpreparedness will only make you look desperate, inexperienced, or both.
Here are some clever tricks you can use to negotiate rent:
Inquire on the Price – Kindly
Bringing up the topic of negotiation might be the hardest part. The last thing you want is the landlord to think you’re an aggressive renter. If you’re shopping for a new apartment, you could throw out the line: “is the rent fixed?” This lets you get a feel for the landlord to see if he or she is willing to budge on the price. You could also ask if there are any special discounts for signing a longer lease, not using a parking spot, or whatever else is applicable to you.
Offer to Prepay
Landlords love to receive a whole year’s rent upfront. This saves them having to make collection efforts and assures them you’re not a flakey tenant. And since $10,000 today is worth more than it is a year down the road, it makes sense for a landlord to give you a discount. Nonetheless, you still need to present yourself in the best manner; have good references and clean up your credit. If you’re not a solid applicant, offering to pay for a whole year of rent might make a landlord nervous.
Time it Right
Don’t start a negotiating a week before your current lease expires. This makes you look desperate and also puts you in a vulnerable position. The general rule-of-thumb is two start negotiation efforts two to three months before your lease expires. Waiting a month or two before your lease ends applies whether you’re looking for a new apartment or want to renew your current lease.
Shop During the Winter
Since more people move during the spring and summer, landlords may have trouble filling vacancies during the winter. This goes back to the fundamentals of supply and demand. When there are more renters looking for apartments, landlords can up the prices. Contrarily, landlords are more willing to offer discounts during the winter. To illustrate, a study done by Renthop in major U.S. cities shows that renters paid between 2.4 to 5.4% in winter months over summer months.
Offer Maintenance Services
If you’re skilled with your hands, it never hurts to offer maintenance services in exchange for reduced rent. Whether it be fixing up your neighbor’s units or your own place, landlords could cut your rent in half. In fact, it doesn’t need to be complex repairs. You could offer to mow the lawn, rake during the summer, or shovel the sidewalks in the winter. Before signing a lease, you’ll likely have to sign a document that defines what you’re responsible for.
Make Yourself an Ideal Applicant
Treat renting an apartment like job hunting. To negotiate a lower rent, you need to be a desirable applicant. This boils down to your demeanor, how you dress, your rental history, and your credit score. Don’t try to negotiate a lower rent simply because you can’t afford it otherwise. Landlords look for tenants with a stable job and an income at least two times the monthly rent.
Sometimes the best way to negotiate a lower rent is to put it in writing. Here is a rent negotiation letter sample to get you started:
1508 Elsie Drive
Scranton, SD 58653
Attn: Dillion Smith
Rocky Hills Property Management
8502 River Bend Ln.
Scranton, SD 58653
I am writing to you to inquire on the recent rent increase announced on 12/17/18. First off, I would like to sincerely thank you for the quality of amenities and maintenance here at Hill Point Apartments. My family and I have genuinely enjoyed living here for the past two years. We have made timely rent payments each month and take care of our apartment like it’s our own home. Not only that, but we are respectful members of the community and are mindful of the tenants around us.
We regret to you inform you that this rent increase of $80 does not fit into our already tight budget. As you know, I am working two jobs and my wife is unable to work. With our kids growing older, expenses are increasing. Despite how much we enjoy living here, we don’t think we can afford to renew our lease come spring. Since we would love to stay in our unit, I’m hoping we can negotiate the monthly rate and pay the same as we are this year. This would allow my kids to go to the same school and take the stress of relocating off my family.
Please call me at 605-589-6322 to discuss this in more detail.