How to Negotiate Rent and Save Big

How to Negotiate Rent and Save Big

Many first-time renters don’t know how to negotiate lower rent and end up overspending. Let’s face it, the majority of people hate dealing. As humans, we’re afraid of that big-old “no.” Whether it be in our personal relationships or business proceedings, we hate rejection. But negotiation doesn’t sound so bad when it can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars each year. Be it a tiny efficiency apartment or a penthouse suite; there’s always some room for negotiation. 

If you’re wondering how to negotiate rent, you need a game plan. Unpreparedness will only make you look desperate, inexperienced, or both. 

Here are some clever tricks you can use to negotiate rent:

1. Kindly Inquire About the Price

Bringing up the topic of negotiation might be the hardest part. The last thing you want is the landlord to think you’re an aggressive renter. If you’re shopping for a new apartment, you could throw out the line: “is the rent fixed?” You could also ask if there are any special discounts for signing a longer lease, not using a parking spot, or whatever else applies to you. 

2. Offer to Prepay

Landlords love to receive a whole year’s rent upfront. Paying upfront saves them from making collection efforts and assures them you’re not a flakey tenant. And since $10,000 today is worth more than it is a year down the road, it makes sense for a landlord to give you a discount. Nonetheless, you still need to present yourself in the best manner, have good references, and clean up your credit. If you’re not a solid applicant, offering to pay for a whole year of rent might make a landlord nervous.

3. Time it Right

Don’t start negotiating a week before your current lease expires. Doing so makes you look desperate and also puts you in a vulnerable position. The general rule-of-thumb is two start negotiation efforts two to three months before your lease expires. Waiting a month or two before your lease ends applies whether you’re looking for a new apartment or want to renew your current lease. 

4. Shop During the Winter

Since more people move during the spring and summer, landlords may have trouble filling vacancies during the winter. When more renters are looking for apartments, landlords can increase the prices. Contrarily, landlords are more willing to offer discounts during the winter. To illustrate, a study done by Renthop in major U.S. cities shows that renters paid between 2.4 to 5.4% in winter months over summer months. 

5. Offer Maintenance Services

If you’re skilled with your hands, offering maintenance services in exchange for reduced rent never hurts. Whether fixing up your neighbor’s units or your place, landlords could cut your rent in half. It doesn’t need to be complex repairs. You could offer to mow the lawn, rake during the summer, or shovel the sidewalks in the winter. Before signing a lease, you’ll likely have to sign a document that defines your responsibilities.

6. Make Yourself an Ideal Applicant

Treat renting an apartment like job hunting. To negotiate a lower rent, you need to be a desirable applicant. Coming off as a desirable applicant boils down to your demeanor, how you dress, your rental history, and your credit score. Don’t try to negotiate a lower rent simply because you can’t afford it otherwise. Landlords look for tenants with a stable job and an income at least two times the monthly rent.