How to Negotiate Price on an Apartment

Most people don't know that rental prices aren't set in stone. Talk to your landlord and see if you can negotiate a lower rent, in exchange for a few commitments on your part. Getting your landlord to knock a hundred dollars or so off your monthly rent can add up to thousands of dollars of savings at the end of the year. You have nothing to lose by asking, the worst they can do is say no.

Before you sign your name on your new lease, use these tips to try to negotiate a lower monthly rent.

Know Your Power

While at first it seems crazy that a landlord would be willing to lose money by lowering your rent, a reliable tenant that respects their space and pays rent on time saves them a ton of money in the long term. Flaky and irresponsible tenants cost property managers thousands of dollars in repairs and expensive eviction processes. For the greatest leverage, you should have a solid credit score and good references from former landlords that confirm that you are a responsible, reliable tenant.

Time It Right

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The best time to negotiate down your rent is near the end of the month, when landlords are facing the most pressure to fill units. Your leverage is at it's greatest if you move during the winter months, when the rental market is at it's slowest and landlords don't have as many potential tenants clamoring for their properties.

If you are looking to renew your current lease, try negotiating down the rent a few months before it expires. Having a proven track record of being clean, responsible and timely with your rent may entice your landlord to cut you a deal.

If you are moving into a new development, property managers are often desperate to fill dozens of units at once, giving you an edge in negotiations. Many new developments are willing to offer a free month of rent or wave maintenance or gym fees in order to quickly turn around a profit on their building.

Be Willing To Sign a Longer Lease

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Landlords lose money every time they have to find new tenants. It can take several months to fill a unit, and in the meantime, an empty apartment represents lost income. And that is before you factor in repair costs and listing fees. Moreover, scheduling tours and reviewing applications is a big time commitment for property owners that are managing multiple buildings. The inconvenience and expenditure of frequent lease turnover makes responsible long-term tenants appealing to landlords.

If you like your apartment and are willing to give up some flexibility, offer to sign a long-term lease. Many landlords offering month-to-month leases are happy to lock down long-term renters and might lower your monthly rent in exchange for a 12-month commitment. If you already have a yearlong lease, propose signing one for 18 months. If you are moving in during the slow season (i.e., winter), many landlords will jump at the chance to have your lease expire during the busy summer season, when they can list the unit at more competitive rates.

Not only are landlords more willing to negotiate rents down for a longer lease, signing a long term agreement also locks down your rent price so you can keep your rent low even if rates shoot up in the next year and a half.

Similarly, landlords may be willing to negotiate for lower rent in exchange for an extended move out notice. Most leases require tenants to give a 30 day notice before moving out, but agreeing to giving a 60, or even 90 day notice grants landlords more time to advertise and fill the unit in order to avoid costly gaps in occupancy.

Offer Your Services

If you are a handy person, you might want to consider offering your services in exchange for discounted rent. Have construction experience? Maybe your property manager could use a new fence. Got a green thumb? Offer to take on landscaping responsibilities. Take a look at what could be spruced up in the building: maybe the lobby could use a new coat of paint, or perhaps the railing out front is falling apart. Ask your landlord what it is worth to them to have you fix it.

Give up some convenience

If you don't have a car, offer to give up your parking space. Even if you do drive, you can save hundreds of dollars a year by giving up your designated parking spot and parking on the street instead. Your landlord can sell your spot to other tenants looking for an extra.

On the flip side, if your landlord seems unwilling to lower the actual dollar amount of your monthly rent, you can negotiate for more services, such as a free parking spot, free storage, or upgrades for your apartment, like new appliances.

With these tips and tricks, you'll be able to negotiate your rent like a pro. Be confident but courteous, and try to strike a deal that leaves everyone happy. With any luck, you'll be able to save thousands of dollars on rent per year.

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