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14 Tips to Get Cheaper Rent

By: Sania Tran and Susan Finch
June 10, 2021

As rent prices rise across the nation, one has to be more resourceful to secure cheaper rent. Negotiating lower rent rates is definitely an art and requires creativity, effort and time investment on your part. It might sound intimidating at first, but worry not! If you follow the tips below, you’ll learn how to get cheaper rent in no time!

1. Study up on your local market.

The first thing you have to do to get that cheaper rent is to learn about rent prices for apartments in your area and surrounding neighborhoods. You want to be equipped with facts when you decide to negotiate rent. If vacancy rates in the area are high and there are a lot of empty units waiting for tenants, it might be your biggest bargaining chip. Vacant apartments mean loss of income for landlords and property managers. They would rather give a lower rent rate than keep it empty for another month.

2. Know the best time to rent an apartment.

Good timing is very important when trying to get cheaper rent. Did you know that winter is the best time to rent an apartment if you are budget-conscious? That’s when the demand for rentals is at its lowest because most people prefer not to move during the colder months of the year. Therefore, if you can be flexible with your move, wait for December or January to start your search.

3. Scope out the competition.

Walk around the neighborhood, talk to people about vacancies and rent prices. Don’t be afraid to walk into lease offices and ask about their prices and deals. New apartment complexes often offer incentives during the so-called “lease-up.” Lease-up refers to the first 6 to 12 months after the official launch of a new apartment building. Some of those incentives might include a free month of rent, parking spot, storage or waived application fees. The more you know the higher are your chances of getting cheaper rent. For instance, if you know for a fact that a new apartment complex is offering a parking spot and your rental of choice isn’t, that’s definitely something you should bring up.

4. Ask about deals.

Ask your landlord if there are any discounts on long-term leases. If you really like an apartment and plan to stay in the area for the next couple of years, offer to sign a longer lease in exchange for a lower rate.

5. Be ready to pay more upfront in return for cheaper rent.

Offer to pay rent for the first two months upfront or a higher security deposit. If they are currently renovating other units or improving surrounding areas, they might prefer getting more money now than having it spread out throughout the year. The landlord or property manager gets cash, you get cheaper rent. Win-win!

6. Be flexible with move-in dates and upgrades.

When a tenant moves out, landlords and property managers have to invest time and money to clean the unit and do necessary upgrades. Offer to clean the apartment yourself and forego unnecessary upgrades and renovations. Be ready to move-in soon after signing your lease.

7. Have something to offer in return.

If you have a flexible schedule, offer to do some chores for your landlord. For instance, you can be responsible for taking trash and recycle bins out for the entire rental property. Or if you know how to do certain repairs, offer your services in exchange for cheaper monthly rent.

8. Provide good references and sell yourself as a stellar tenant to get cheaper rent.

If you have a good credit score, stable job and income, make sure to mention it to your prospective landlord or leasing agent. If you are in good standing with your previous landlord, ask them to write a rental reference letter for your apartment application. Finding a trustworthy and reliable tenant might not be so easy, so make sure to talk yourself up.

9. Factor in all costs before making your choice.

Cheaper rent doesn’t always mean a better deal. For example, if a prospective landlord is offering an in-unit washer and dryer, free parking spot and gym onsite, you can save a lot of money by renting this more expensive apartment.

10. Rent with a roommate.

Renting with a roommate is an easy way to cut costs and enjoy some company. Sometimes living with a friend is seamless, but teaming up with an acquaintance is also a wise strategy. You can start fresh and set expectations when you have a limited history with someone.

Of course, you'll need to set some ground rules and make sure you're compatible as roommates. Discuss who pays utilities, how to handle rent, when to clean shared spaces, and policies on overnight guests. The situation will prove more manageable if you're both on the same page and focused on a productive living situation.

11. Look for rent specials.

Move-in specials are standard practice when property owners want to increase interest and find new renters. They're usually one-time or limited-time offers, most often limited to once or twice a year. Waived application fees, reduced security deposits, and deals on longer leases are common move-in specials. Sometimes you can find first-month free deals, although the discount is usually prorated across the entire length of your lease.

The time of year you move also matters. Rent specials are more common during winter months when fewer people are moving. The complex you're interested in may also match a rent deal you saw just down the street.

12. Consider living outside of the city.

Is living in your dream city out of reach? Urban metropolises like New York City, Boston, and San Francisco are notoriously expensive. But you may be able to score a deal on an apartment a stone's throw from the city. Make sure you factor in additional time and costs for public transportation or parking.

You're likely to find more space when you live outside the city. Renting a townhouse or single-family home offers more flexibility to take in a few roommates and can further reduce your rent. If you're committed to a rental deal, living outside of the city and away from suburban amenities will also result in more savings.

13. Narrow down the amenities.

There are so many apartments on the market, from no-frills to fully-loaded with amenities, on-site swimming pools, and fitness centers. It's tempting to want to go all out on your apartment search, but narrowing down your amenities usually results in cost savings. It's also important to know which amenities offer the best standard of living for your situation. An updated kitchen and bathroom are necessities for a comfortable living situation.

Make a list of your must-have amenities and a wish list for everything else. If the rent is right, you may discover you really don't care about the rooftop terrace as much as you thought.

14. Search for middle-floor units.

The floor your apartment is on could make a big impact on your rent. Top floors are often the most desirable for the views. You also don't have to worry about anyone living above you and making too much noise. Bottom floors are also popular for residents with kids, older tenants, and anyone who wants convenient exit points and on-site amenities. Ask the landlord or property manager if there is a rent reduction on middle-floor units. You may find additional cost savings if you're on the middle floor and with limited views.

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Sania is a content manager and contributing author at Apartment List. Sania previously worked in marketing at Habitat for Humanity and Samsung Electronics. Read More
Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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