So you want to lower your rent? Here’s how to negotiate

1. Know the rental market

The first step in negotiating rent is to do your research ahead of time. Look around and understand what surrounding apartment rates are. Compare apples to apples. If you’re interested in a new development, then look at other new developments.

Make sure you have a clear understanding of the amenities that are available and how they compare to the unit you’re considering. For example, if one neighboring apartment complex offers covered parking, a gym and pool, you’ll want to compare that to an apartment complex with similar offerings. After all, those amenities increase the price of rent. Make this info known to your property manager.

Rental rates are not a secret, but they can change from day to day. Get a competing rate in writing if you can, and if it’s lower than the one being offered, have it with you when you go to negotiate. A lower rate in a similar apartment is a great tool for negotiating a lower price on your own apartment.

Sample rent reduction letter

No matter the reason for the request, here’s a sample letter to ask your landlord to lower the rate. They’re not legally obligated to do anything about it, but most will respond. Simply fill in your specific information and personalize it based on your situation (this sample letter has financial hardship in mind). Then, mail or email this letter to your property manager. Be sure to keep a version on file for yourself.

Your NameCurrent Address of Your Apartment with Unit NumberCity, State, ZIP Code

Date

Landlord Or Apartment Company’s NameAddress as Printed on Your LeaseCity, State, ZIP Code

Re: Request to Lower Monthly Rent Payment

Dear (Contact’s name),

I am contacting you to discuss lowering my monthly rent rate. I love living here, but lately, situations out of my control have impacted my monthly finances. A reduction in rent would go a long way to help me get back on track.

Prior to this, I have been a model tenant. I have always paid my rent on time and in full. I’ve maintained the apartment in good condition and I have been kind and respectful to both you and my neighbors. I don’t believe you could ask for a more conscientious resident.

I have done my research into rents in the area, and I believe a slight reduction is reasonable compared to what others are paying. After speaking with some of my neighbors and examining rates for similar units in the neighborhood, I have a good idea of what is realistic, given the local market value.

I would like to request a [dollar amount here] reduction of my monthly rent, which is in line with the neighborhood average. I believe this is a fair rate and would help me retain residence here, which is very important to both of us.

There are also many benefits to you if I stay, including avoiding the expense and hassle of listing the vacancy, readying the apartment for a new tenant, going through the application process and the possibility of lost rental income while you search for a new tenant.

In exchange for your generosity, I would like to know if there is something I could do for you, as well. If you wish, I could pre-pay the first month or two of the new rate, sign a longer lease commitment or extend the termination notice time an extra month or two. I’m open to ideas.

I do enjoy living here, but I can save money by moving elsewhere. I am hoping it doesn’t come to that and we can agree on new terms. Please let me know your thoughts as soon as possible.

Thank you,

Your Name and SignatureApartment Address and Unit NumberPhone NumberEmail Address

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3. Sell yourself as a good tenant

Looking for another lesson on how to negotiate rent? If you’ve never rented in that particular complex a few letters of recommendation from personal references will go a long way toward convincing a manager you’d be a tenant worth having, even at a lower rate.

Think of it as a resume for your living situation. Get a letter from previous landlords or apartment managers which say you pay your rent on time and don’t cause problems. Get letters that speak to your character from a former boss, neighbor, someone in a non-profit organization or your church. Just like in a job interview, these professional references can help you negotiate rent and sell yourself as a good tenant for your potential new landlord.

If you’re trying to renew your existing lease at a better rate, remind the manager that you’ve always paid your rent on time and anything else that’s positive. Have you kindly alerted them to maintenance concerns? Have you helped in an emergency? Have you assisted during holiday parties? These situations can go a long way and help you lower the cost of rent on your upcoming lease.

2. Be clear about what you want and why you want it

Before entering a negotiation, look at prices in your desired neighborhood and come prepared to defend the number you are offering to pay.

"Try to walk your landlord through your thinking process of how you arrived at that price," Mohamed says. She suggests that prospective tenants mention nearby apartments, as well as any accompanying amenities, when explaining why they want a reduction.

Services like Zillow and Zumper are good resources for rental data, while Mohamed's openigloo is useful for New Yorkers who want to see tenant feedback on specific buildings.

Inquire about extending the lease

Showing that you plan to stay in your apartment for a substantial length of time can demonstrate that you’re a stable investment. If the lease is annual, offer to extend it to 18-24 months in exchange for keeping your current rent. If the landlord knows he or she won’t have to take a risk with a new tenant, this could be a good compromise.

8. Extend your lease term

Landlords who rent apartments short-term usually ask for higher rents than for long term leases. Evaluate your situation and ask yourself if you would be willing to extend your lease term. Your landlord might be open to a higher rent reduction if they can get the peace of mind that you will be staying longer.

How to negotiate rent as a new tenant

The best way to go about any negotiation is to mak

The best way to go about any negotiation is to make the other person feel like they are winning, too. Despite what you’ve probably seen in television and movies, negotiation isn’t about wheeling and dealing or hustling the other side out of money. Think about it in terms of what your landlord would value in return for offering you a reduced rent.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Can you prepay for several months at once?Many landlords would be thrilled to not have to worry about chasing late rent payments (it’s a major headache that everyone hates dealing with). If you can pay a few months upfront, your potential landlord might be willing to offer you a monthly discount.
  • Can you commit to a longer lease? Obviously, be careful with this one, but if you plan on being there for a while, this could be a big negotiating factor. If the lease in question is for 12 months, ask if they’d be willing to drop the monthly rate in return for signing an 18-month or 2-year lease. Not having to find new renters every 12 months is a good reason to give someone a lower monthly rent price.
  • Does the rental allow pets, but you don’t have a pet?Cleaning a unit after a pet-owning resident moves out can cost your landlord or property manager extra time and money. If you don’t have a pet, see if you can use that as a bargaining chip.
  • Can you give up a parking spot?If you don’t have a car or don’t anticipate having many guests with cars, this may be something to offer your landlord. They can offer the extra spot to another tenant and offer you a discount in return.
  • If there are a lot of empty units in your complex, can you make a deal with your landlord for sending referrals? Word of mouth marketing is strong, and landlords know that. Suggest a referral bonus in the form of cheaper rent.

These are just a few ideas to get you started; the sky’s the limit. As long as you can approach the other side with something in return that they value, your chances of snagging a lower rent are higher.

How much of a reduction should you ask for?

The amount of decrease you ask for during rent negotiation will make or break your case. Be sure to ask for a realistic reduction based on the going rental rates in your neighborhood (both in your complex and others in the area).

A little research in the nearby rental market is necessary to justify a lower cost. Ask your friends who live in your area what they’re paying and if they’ve successfully been able to negotiate their rent. Don’t be afraid to canvas some neighbors to get an idea of what they’re paying — it’s not impolite. In fact, if they’re paying too much, they’ll be happy to know so they can send a rent reduction letter themselves. Thorough knowledge of rent prices in the area is a key piece of the negotiation and is likely what will ultimately win over your landlord

6. Suggest the possibility of referral credit for spreading the word about vacant units in the building

Mixetto / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com Of course, the landlord would be thrilled to get more units rented — wouldn’t you? Luckily, word of mouth can be a pretty powerful marketing tactic. It’s kind of like signing up for a subscription service and getting money off your next shipment for getting your friends to sign up too! Ask if you would be able to receive “credit” in the form of a rent discount in exchange for referring a friend. Of course, you’ll want to actually live in the space and make sure you love it before you refer friends and family to the units as well. But it can be nice to know that the offer is on the table.

Be open to compromise

Unless you’re simply unwilling or unable to afford the rent rate, suggest a compromise amount that you can afford. For instance, if the rent is $100 higher than you’d like, offer to pay $50 instead. Back up your offer by mentioning your research findings and focusing on your stability as a tenant.

6. Be ready to walk away

If you think a landlord's asking price for an apartment is too high, don't overpay.

"This is really your time. Do your research and do your due diligence," Mohamed says. "But don't settle, because there are thousands of empty apartments to choose from."

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