“Hi, this is Makenna from Phoenix. I’m in college and renting an apartment is my one big expense. Even though I work two jobs, I find the rent painful to pay. I’ve heard you can negotiate for a lower rent, but I have no idea where to start and I feel awkward asking my landlord. Can you give me some advice on this?”
Great question, Makenna! I give a lot of strategies on Easy Money for homeowners to save money and I don’t want to leave out renters, so I’m glad you asked. You’re feeling awkward because you think you’re asking your landlord for a favor, but in a true negotiation, you both give AND get something.
According to Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To be Rich, the key is to give them something you don’t care about in exchange for something you do. For example, if you plan to stay in the place anyway, offer to sign a longer lease. Or if you don’t use the parking space or storage unit that comes with your rental, offer to give it back so the landlord can sell it to somebody else.
Category 2 for rent reductions is bartering. If you’re handy, offer to make improvements to the property in exchange for a rent reduction. Or, get creative with your bartering: do you walk your dog every day? Offer to walk your landlord’s dog too, for a lower rent. Another trade off: Have you been inconvenienced by loud construction, loud neighbors or some other hassle? Offer your loyalty in exchange for a rent reduction.
It’s also important to be prepared for this negotiation. To find out how loose or tight the rental market is where you live, you can use Zillow’s Local Market Reports. To gather comparables for how much other, similar apartments cost to rent, check out Rentometer.
Finally, it’s time for your approach. Many people find it helpful to practice their pitch in front of friends or at least into a mirror. Also practice your responses to the landlord’s likely responses. And be sure to time the conversation right. If you already live there, approach the landlord about 3 months before your lease is up so they know you have time to look elsewhere. If it’s a new place, the end of the month is best because they’re looking at another month with no income from the place.
You should ask for a deeper discount than you really want or need, in hopes your landlord will meet you in the middle. Name your price —and SHUT UP! That uncomfortable pregnant pause is key in negotiations. The goal is for the landlord to fill the silence with a “yes!” Good luck and let me know how it goes!
Prepare to negotiate and check the rental market where you live:
Know what similar apartments cost: