Rent prices are starting to drop in many cities. New research from Rent. shows levels have dropped for the first time in six months. But in many cities, prices are still very high. Can you negotiate rent? The short answer is yes. Here are strategies you can take when negotiating rent prices to try to put yourself in the best position as a renter:
Understand the rental market
Make sure you have a clear understanding of the amenities that are available and how they compare to the unit you’re considering. For example, if one neighboring apartment complex offers covered parking, a gym and a pool, you’ll want to compare that to an apartment complex with similar offerings. After all, those amenities increase the price of rent. Make this info known to your property manager.
Rental rates are not a secret, but they can change from day to day. Get a competing rate in writing if you can, and if it’s lower than the one being offered, have it with you when you go to negotiate. A lower rate in a similar apartment is a great tool for negotiating a lower price on your own apartment.
Consider the time of year
If it’s the end of the month, vacancies are high and you’d be willing to leave if you don’t get what you want, that could be a time when a manager is more likely to be amenable to your offer. However, if you don’t have an alternate place to move ahead of time, you may not want to start negotiating rent until something else is lined up.
As a rule of thumb, winter is usually a good moment to broach the topic of cheaper rent, as it’s harder to find tenants during that time of year. Summer is peak rental season, so you’ll need to be a little more persuasive if you’re trying to negotiate rent during the peak moving season.
Sell yourself as a good tenant
Looking for another lesson on how to negotiate rent? If you’ve never rented in that particular complex a few letters of recommendation from personal references will go a long way toward convincing a manager you’d be a tenant worth having, even at a lower rate.
Think of it as a resume for your living situation. Get a letter from previous landlords or apartment managers that says you make on-time rent payments and cause them no problems. Get letters that speak to your character from a former boss, neighbor, or someone in a non-profit organization or church. Just like in a job interview, these professional references can help you negotiate rent and sell yourself as a good tenant for your potential new landlord.
If you’re trying to renew your existing lease at a better rate, remind the manager that you’ve always paid your rent on time and anything else that’s positive. Have you kindly alerted them to maintenance concerns? Have you helped in an emergency? Have you assisted during holiday parties? These situations can go a long way and help you lower the cost of rent on your upcoming lease.
Exchange value for price
What’s a lower rent price worth to you? Would you consider doing something above and beyond paying rent that offers tangible value to your property manager?
Think of jobs or tasks around the property — maintenance, cleaning, administrative, marketing — that would increase the underlying value of the owner or manager’s investment. Helping with some of these activities could cut down on expenses and thus, justify the price reduction you’re looking for.
Another “how to” negotiate your rent tip is to bargain with amenities and other things of value. Are you willing to give up your parking space to reduce rent each month? Or, can you pay six months of rent upfront or in cash? Would you be willing to sign a longer lease at a lower rate?
Think like a manager. Everything has a value and most everything is fair game to negotiate or trade with. Don’t be afraid to ask what your manager needs. If he or she has flexibility in pricing (and they usually do), then you might be able to help each other.
Experiment with the lease terms
Offering a different move-out date, extending your lease term or reworking the end of your lease term to fall during high season (spring or summer) are some of the ways you may be able to play with lease dates and terms that might be attractive to a leasing manager.
Get your negotiation in writing
As with many things in life, you can ask for and negotiate anything — including rent. If you’re a good tenant, can be persuasive and ask for what you want and need, you can negotiate the terms of your lease and rent prices and walk away with a lower rental rate.
After you’ve worked out a reduced rate with your landlord, make sure you get the new deal in writing so you have a paper trail and proof of your newly negotiated rate.
For more information on trends, visit Rent.