Negotiating the Cost of Rent

Finding the perfect apartment to call home can be a great experience, especially when the price is right.

But what are tenants to do when they locate the ideal apartment, but the rent is too expensive? One technique renters can try it rent negotiation. In fact, some landlords are willing to negotiate to help keep their units full of paying renters. The key to getting a reduced rate is a successful negotiation strategy. By approaching the discussion with a clear plan, tact and the perfect timing, renters may even end up with a better deal than initially expected.

Know What to Ask For

A good negotiation starts with a clear objective in mind. Renters should spend time evaluating what they genuinely want before meeting with the landlord. Is a lower rental rate the goal? If so, renters will need to know upfront how much of a discount they expect. The rate should be comparable to nearby apartment complexes or similar types of apartments in the area. Property owners want to remain profitable and will not want to cut the price without a clear benefit. Requesting too steep of a discount won’t result in a favorable outcome. If the property owner does not agree to a reduced rate, there are other options to help cut the cost of the apartment or at least result in better amenities. In many apartment complexes, garages and assigned parking spots are an extra expense. A landlord might be more willing to waive the fee for one of these coveted parking spots instead of lowering the rent. Perhaps the apartment needs some updates. Maybe the landlord might consider upgrading the appliances, counters or flooring. Often, property owners would rather instead invest in a lump sum upfront rather than take a monthly loss on the rent. Landlords may also agree to waive fees for extra amenities such as the gym or onsite storage. Another option to consider is asking for a larger apartment that may be in a less than ideal location, such as the back of the complex. Tenants tend to avoid units in awkward locations on the property, and as such, many of these units remain vacant for an extended time. The landlord may be willing to rent the apartment at a reduced price to get the place rented.

Make it Worth Their While

Property owners need a compelling reason to cut into their monthly profit. As such, tenants should do everything possible make doing so worth their while. Evictions are a landlord’s nightmare. They are costly, time-consuming and involve a lot of legal complexities. Agreeing to pay the entire lease upfront may have great results. From the landlord’s perspective, they receive guaranteed income, and there is less of a likelihood of forcing an eviction. Another option to help tenants entice a favorable outcome is to offer to handle basic maintenance items. Landlords must pay for the labor and supplies when something goes wrong in any of the apartments. If a renter agrees to take on repairs for their unit, the landlord may see it as a great way to save some money. Tenants might even offer to perform regular upkeep of common areas such as the parking lot or community pool. Again, this is a chance for the landlord to save some money, so current or prospective tenants should ask. When it comes to profit, landlords keep a close eye on the vacancy rate. The vacancy rate is a measurement that reflects how long a rental unit remains vacant. Landlords want to keep a low vacancy rate and may consider other options to keep the units rented. Thus, tenants may offer to sign a longer lease in exchange for a reduced rate. It is a win-win situation for both. The landlord gets to keep their vacancy rate low, and the renter ends up with a great deal on an apartment.

Tips for Success

Most landlords are agreeable to negotiating, though some may be more resistant than others. An independent property owner is far more likely to negotiate these prices, whereas a landlord for a larger company may not be open to debating rent prices. There are some strategies renters can employ to sway things in their favor. The timing could make the difference in a successful negotiation. Winter months tend to be slow months, as tenants would rather wait for warmer weather to move. As such, vacant units tend to remain vacant until spring or early summer. Renters willing to move in the winter helps the landlord cut down on their vacancy rate. In addition, tenants currently under lease might consider waiting until right before their lease ends to start their negotiations. Property owners don’t want to lose tenants and are often willing to offer extra incentives to keep them. Another strategy is to hone in on apartment complexes with a lot of empty units. Again, landlords looking to fill a bunch of vacant apartments are often more agreeable to flexible lease terms. Lastly, current tenants will have greater success if they are the ideal tenant. Renters who pay on time every month, do not cause trouble, and keep their apartment in good condition are ideal for landlords. For most landlords, the cost to maintain these tenants is far less than advertising for a new tenant, prepping the place for rent and starting over with a new renter.

What to Avoid

The last thing renters want to do is approach the negotiation with demands. The landlord is not obligated to offer any discount. Tenants who remember this and approach the discussion calmly and respectfully will get better results. Renters should also remain flexible in their requests. The landlord may not agree to a reduced rate immediately but may be willing to offer it within six months. Being too rigid could cost renters their chance at a great apartment. Tenants should also avoid involving too many parties in the discussion. Family members, friends and general supporters have no place in the discussion. The landlord may view it as an attack and may not want to negotiate. Tenants should keep the conversation as a private matter between them and the landlord.

Landing the ideal apartment at a great price is all about successful negotiations. Landlords want to keep their units full and will do anything within reason to make that happen. When tenants present a compelling reason to do so, most property owners are happy to offer reduced rates or extra amenities. Tenants who approach the topic appropriately often end up with a better apartment at a great rate.

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