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How to Negotiate a Lease Renewal for Your Apartment

March 22, 2019

Whether you received a lease renewal letter from your landlord or are trying to be proactive in securing your apartment for a long haul, you should know that you can and should negotiate your lease renewal. There is a lot to be gained when it comes to renewing your rental agreement. For instance, you can negotiate rent increases, upgrades to your unit or even adding pets. Knowing how to negotiate a lease renewal can help you save money on a potential move.

1. Know your lease terms and renewing rights.

Figuring out your lease termination date is a good start. Proceed by meticulously studying all clauses pertaining to your renewing rights and terms. Many rental agreements will require you to notify your landlord about your decision to terminate or renew your lease 30 or 60 days before the end of the lease term.

2. Start building your case ahead of time.

To successfully negotiate your lease renewal, you have to build a strong case. Whether your lease requires a 30 or 60-day notice, you have to start preparing early to have enough time to negotiate.

3. Reach out to your landlord or property manager.

Communication is key to a successful lease negotiation. Be proactive and let your landlord know that you are looking into renewing your lease and are ready to discuss its terms. It’s a good time to reread a good old “How to win friends and influence people.” Ideally, you should start building rapport with your landlord at the beginning of your tenancy and not wait until it’s time to negotiate.

4. Know that you have leverage and don’t be afraid to use it.

You might not be aware of it, but most landlords want you to renew your lease to avoid tenant turnover. Costs associated with turning around a rental unit, cleaning it, making necessary repairs and finding new tenants might outway potential benefits of raising your rent. Keep in mind that your leverage is stronger if you deal with individual landlords as opposed to large property management companies.

5. Study up on your local rental market and be ready to drop some knowledge.

If your landlord decided to raise your rent, be ready to provide strong counterarguments. Know what your apartment is worth. Check market rental rates for similar apartments in your area, ask other tenants and your neighbors what they pay.  If your landlord hasn’t upgraded the unit in years and is trying to increase your rent above its market level, you have the right to negotiate.

It might also be a good idea to learn about vacancy rates in your city and neighborhood. If there is no demand for housing in the area due to high crime rates, poor infrastructure or an oversupply of properties available on the market, they might have to spend big bucks to fill the unit.

6. Check your local legislation.

Depending on where you live, there might be different rules regulating annual rent increases.

7. Sell yourself as a stellar tenant.

Are you a “low-maintenance” tenant? Have you been paying rent on time? Is your unit in a better condition than before you moved in? Be sure to mention these points when negotiating your lease. Responsible and reliable tenants are not that easy to come by.

8. Consider extending your lease.

If your tenancy is month-to-month, suggest signing an annual contract. If you are sure you are going to spend at least a couple of years in the area, suggest a multi-year lease.

9. Consider paying up-front or increasing your security deposit.

Some individual landlords might be willing to consider a lower rent increase if you are ready to pay for a couple of months up-front or increase your security deposit.

10. Suggest helping your landlord with some chores.

If you work from home and have a flexible schedule, you might be able to help your landlord with small requests or things like signing off on packages or taking trash and recycling bins out for the entire apartment community. They’ll save on handyman services, and you might be able to save on rent. Win-win!

11. If your landlord doesn’t budge, ask for upgrades.

If your landlord or property manager is adamant about raising your rent, try asking for improvements to the property. In case appliances in the unit are old, ask for upgrades. If you’ve always wanted to get a cat or a parrot, it’s a good time to bring it up! Be respectful and calmly make your point. If you can’t save on rent, you should at least get something out of it!

By: Sania Tran
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