4 tips for negotiating the rent on your apartment, according to renters who have done it
- There's almost always room to negotiate on the rent for your apartment or home, and the pandemic has given renters more reasons to try it.
- Try to focus on small negotiations to help you save money over time, like $50 or $100 off each month, or keeping your rent the same to save.
- Having the conversation by phone or a video call can make your negotiation more personal and effective than it would be via email.
- And, renters say that mentioning your record as a good tenant who pays on time and takes care of the property can help to close the deal.
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Rent on your apartment or home is always up for negotiation. And during the coronavirus pandemic, that's become especially true.
City apartment dwellers have migrated from urban areas to quarantine, live, and work in more spacious suburban homes. Homeownership is on the rise, as former renters take advantage of record low mortgage interest rates. And, a number of young would-be renters moved home after facing pandemic-related unemployment. Combined, these factors have left a number of apartments vacant, and given tenants a unique advantage.
For landlords, it's never been more important to keep good tenants. And tenants can use that to their advantage when their lease comes due, asking for lower monthly rent payments. If you're considering it, renters who have done it say it's definitely worth a shot — here are the tips and tricks they used to lower their own rents.
1. Focus on small changes over time, rather than big discounts
Landlords generally tend to raise rents each year. According to Apartment Therapy, rents tend to increase 3% annually to keep up with inflation. But that doesn't mean you have to pay the increase. Austin renter Danielle Marchell has negotiated her rent every year she's lived in her current apartment, and says that she's had success avoiding the increase simply by asking.
"I always try to talk to the leasing office and say, 'I've lived here for a couple of years. Is there any way I could keep it at the same rate? I'd love to live here again,'" she says. For the past five years she's lived in her apartment, it's worked, and she's paid the same rent.
It's a good example of how small requests are more easily granted. But as a renter, that small amount — even if its $50 or $100 per month — makes a big difference over time. For anyone who expects to stay in the same apartment for a long time, asking to keep your rent the same can be a small ask that makes a big difference over time.
2. Talk by phone or video chat, rather than by email
When former bartender and server Serena Marie was laid off from both of her jobs in New York City, she and her roommates decided to try to negotiate their rent. Since they rented from an individual landlord rather than a big management company, they scheduled a video call to talk.
She thinks that the face-to-face interaction, even if virtual, helped them get the deal they needed. "The face-to-face interaction (through FaceTime) was crucial to the outcome because it allowed us to assess her reaction," she wrote for Insider.
Marchell told Insider that a similar method has always worked for her, too."Whenever I have these conversations with the property managers, I always make sure to do it over the phone or in person. It's much easier to negotiate on a human, person-to-person level than it would be over email."
While face-to-face meetings haven't been an option during the coronavirus pandemic, a phone or video call is a more effective alternative to an impersonal email.
3. If you have a good record as a renter, mention that
If you've done a good job with making payments on time, maintaining the property, and being a good tenant all around, that's more leverage for your negotiations. After all, landlords are often better off making less with a good tenant than getting a higher rent from a problematic tenant.
"I like to bring up my tenant record," Marchell says. "I mention the fact that I've always paid my rent on time, and that no one complains about me," she says. "It's in their best interest to keep their renewal rates at a high percentage. So trying to work with them on that level I find always works."
4. There's nothing wrong with asking, and the worst thing they'll say is no
Writer Eric Rosenberg negotiated the rent on an apartment in Denver and saved $1,600 simply by asking. When apartment hunting, he suggested a price $100 lower than the asking price, and the landlord accepted.
"I didn't have to move, and staying with my parents was definitely helping me save money, so I wasn't going to move unless I had the right deal," he wrote for Insider. While the landlord originally asked $500 a month for the room, he simply suggested another price. "I said I could make $400 work. He said it was a deal."
His experience negotiating on that room led him to save more money in future rent by negotiating on his next apartments and rentals. "Remember that your landlord is a person too, and they may be willing to work with you to make your lease work," he wrote.
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