Can You Negotiate Rent?
Ready to renew your lease? Looking for a new place? Experts explain how to get the best possible deal on your rent.
Like taxes and grocery prices, rent always seem to go up. Whether due to high demand, property tax increases or improvement costs, it’s never fun to pay more. There’s even an entire political party devoted to the issue.
But are you stuck? Do you have to take what comes, or can you negotiate?
“When it comes to negotiating rent, every landlord and property is different,” says Ryan Barone, co-founder and CEO of RentRedi property management software. Stacy Brown, director of training at Real Property Management, a Neighborly company, agrees. “It really depends on the relationship between the tenant and the property owner,” she says.
Below, Brown and Barone explain the best way to approach your landlord regarding this dicey issue.
Can You Negotiate Rent?
Yes, but Brown says you might have more luck with private parties vs. property management companies. Barone says independently-owned properties are typically managed by the people who own them, while apartment complexes may be owned by larger corporations.
If you’re a current tenant, it’s important to start talking before the lease term starts, Barone says. “This way, the landlord can appropriately budget for the property expenses if they decide on different rent terms with you,” he says. You have a better shot if you’re a good tenant who pays the rent on time.
What if you’re looking for a new place? Can you negotiate rent before signing the initial lease? “Actually, yes, a new prospective renter can negotiate,” Brown says.
Most rental property is managed by licensed real estate agents, Brown says, and they have a fiduciary duty to present all offers to the owner. If you’re looking to rent from an individual property owner, absolutely give negotiating a try. All they can do is say no.
To hammer home this point, Brown quotes Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
How To Negotiate Rent
Negotiating is a delicate process, Brown says, so do your homework and have a plan. You’ll need to convince the landlord a rent decrease will be worth their while. Depending on your landlord’s circumstances, they might accommodate a unique arrangement for you, Barone says.
“This setup could mean discounted rent in exchange for maintenance duties like sweeping the walkways, cleaning the pool or mowing the lawn,” he says. “This could be especially helpful to landlords with multiple properties, if a renter is willing to help with these chores at all of their units.”
If you’re ready to negotiate, remember these tips:
- Know the market rate for the property type and area. Use Zillow or other rental search engines to make comparisons.
- Be ready to prove you’re a reliable renter who pays bills on time and takes care of the unit.
- Look for amenities or features that could improve the property, or be updated with a little work.
- Offer your services to the landlord in exchange for a rent decrease.
- Be realistic. Most landlords have high property expenses to maintain, so don’t expect a discount that’s below market value.
How To Negotiate Rent Increases
Property owners have cost increases every year too and may raise your rent for the next lease term. If the increase will put a strain on your budget, look for ways you can help offset those costs. If you’re not the handy type, or you’re living in an apartment with fewer DIY opportunities, maybe you can get a perk to offset the increase.
“If your landlord is unable to lower your rent, there are other things you might be able to ask about,” Barone says. “For example, if you’re a longstanding tenant who is trusted by your landlord, they might be willing to offer you a parking space at no cost, or forgo your pet’s monthly rent.”
It can’t hurt to ask. Do your homework, and be prepared to advocate for yourself as a valuable tenant with a good rental history.