Rent. It's just one of those things in life. You pay because you have to. But just because you're under obligation to pay rent doesn't mean you don't get to have a say in what exactly the rate will be! When is the last time you wished you could negotiate your rent but didn't know where to start? Well fear no more, because a whole host of information and how-to's are coming your way.
The "why" of negotiating rent
If you're thinking, "Why should I even negotiate rent in the first place?" the straight answer is pretty obvious: to save money. And lest you dismiss this reasoning with the thought of, "Ugh, I don't really need to save money that badly. I'll just pay the rent and avoid confrontation," let's dig more into what negotiating your rent could mean for you.
- Freedom. Even if you're saving as little as $50-$100 a month, that can pay out to a good-sized chunk of $600-$1,200 saved over the course of 12 months. Some people can even save up to $200 a month, $2,400 in an entire year! Talk about (significantly) increased financial freedom!
- Better relationships. Saving on rent not only leaves you more money to spend how you'd wish but can also improve your relationship with your landlord. If done respectfully and calmly, negotiating your rent can be a great way to remind the landlord that you are a good tenant, and open up a stronger and more open line of communication.
- Better value. If you are concerned that you're not getting the value for the amount you're paying, carrying out a negotiation can be a great way to ease your mind by finding out what options are available to you and working out a win-win situation.
For most people who don't negotiate their rent, the primary reasons are because they think they don't know how, or because they think it's sleazy. If you identify with the second reason, know that negotiation on rent, or anything else in life, doesn't have to be sleazy if you handle it like a decent human being. It's simply a conversation to work out a newly improved situation for both renter and landlord, and there's nothing to feel bad about. If the first reason is what's holding you back, fear not! That's what we're here to help you with in this post, so keep on scrolling.
The "when" of negotiating rent
Regardless of how badly you want to get your rent rate lowered or receive more value for what you're paying, timing and situation are some of the most important keys in a successful negotiation. If you don't time it right, you won't get it right. So here are some of the best times to negotiate your rent:
- At the end of the month when the pressure is on for landlords to find tenants, if you're looking for a new place.
- A few months before your lease expires, if you're negotiating on your current place.
- When you know you can stay longer. Many landlords are willing to negotiate if they know they won't have to look for another tenant in the next 12 months.
- In the winter, if you're looking for a new place. This is the most difficult season for landlords to find renters, and you'll hold more of the bargaining power.
What to ask for
This seems pretty obvious. Negotiating rent is to get your rate lowered, right? Yes, but it's important to know that this is not strictly limited to dollars; it counts for amenities and benefits too! And this will come in handy especially when you're negotiating with a large property; they're typically less likely to negotiate on the actual rent price itself and more likely to provide additional benefits instead. So what else can you cover and/or include in your rent negotiation besides the price? Here are just a few options:
- A free parking space.
- New upgrades to your apartment, or an accent wall.
- Free storage.
- Waived gym membership fees, if applicable.
The "how" of negotiating rent
No matter how good your timing or your case, it's very important to know how to negotiate your rent. Not only so you can do it successfully, but also so you can feel much more confident and at ease during your negotiation. There are many different ways to negotiate rent; just make sure you have a plan you feel comfortable with. Here are some tips for the "how":
- Start out by doing your research. Find out what other buildings in your neighborhood are charging for situations similar to yours. Not only will this back you up by giving you numbers to work with, but it will also give you a lot more confidence going in, knowing that what you're asking for is reasonable.
- If you're negotiating a new lease, have it end in the summer instead of the winter. Seasoned renters know that the majority of people move in the summer when school is out, the weather's better, and schedules are more flexible. By giving your lease a summer end date, it will be much easier for your landlord to find a new tenant to fill your spot, making it much more likely that they'll be willing to negotiate with you now.
- Offer to pay a few months' rent upfront if your landlord lowers the price.
- Go in with confidence and a knowledge of exactly what it is that you want, and what you're willing to give up. If you're clear on what you want, the entire process can go much more smoothly because you won't be constantly going back and forth on a million different options that may or may not actually work for you.
- Contact your landlord to let them know you want to speak with them. Rather than simply ambushing them with your request, politely let them know you'd like to have a conversation about your rent and ask to set up a good time.
- Have your resources with you. If you're seeing better pricing in other buildings, have those layouts and prices printed out. If you're the perfect tenant who always pays your rent on time, have your rent payment records on hand. Whatever you need to build your case, have it with you in case your landlord would like reminders or references. This minimizes arguments and gives you a better foundation upon which to have your conversation.
- Present the ways your negotiation will benefit your landlord, as well as yourself. If you can pinpoint exactly how a new situation will be beneficial to both of you, this lessens any possible tension and is more likely to be successful.
When it comes down to negotiating your rent, there's really only one rule: Keep the humanity. Remember, your landlord is a real, live person too. Keeping this at the forefront of your mind will help you create a much more effective plan, help you come up with ways your plan can benefit your landlord, and give you a greater sense of purpose and confidence going into your conversations. Whether or not you get exactly what you went in for is less relevant than keeping your self-respect. Prepare, figure out what's really important to you and why, and just do your best! If it doesn't come off well on your first try, remember:
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. --Winston Churchill