Fellow renters, I've got some great tips for negotiating lower rent, whether you're renewing your lease or moving into a new place. I promise that these work, because the Better Half and I just tried them! We're moving, we fell in love with a new place, but it was a little out of our budget … and now it's not! By following these tips for negotiating lower rent, you'll stay on good terms with your landlord and ensure that you look like the kind of renter who knows her stuff!
1. Check out Averages and Other Properties
One of the most essential tips for negotiating lower rent is to know what's going on around you. Check out the average rents in your new town, especially for similar properties. By knowing what other people are paying, you also know what the landlord should reasonably expect. He knows the averages too, so he'll know if you're bluffing or if you've really done your research.
2. Offer DIY Home Repairs
If you're great at painting or wallpapering, if you're excellent at installing carpet, putting in cabinets, or even fixing plumbing problems, let your landlord know. He might be willing to negotiate for lower rent if you can do some repairs around your new property – or even around all of his properties. Just let him know your talents. Heck, if you're a great writer, he might even want you to do some freelancing work for him!
3. Pay Upfront
Usually, you have to pay first month's rent, last month's rent, and a security deposit. If you run across a place that doesn't ask for all of that money, offer some of it anyway – that can help. It's a gesture of good faith. Failing that, offer to pay the rent earlier in the month, because sometimes that makes a big difference.
4. Ask for a Multi-Year Lease
This tip worked wonders for the BH and I! Our new landlord couldn't believe we wanted to stay for longer than a year, and it paid off in terms of our rent. If you're not comfortable staying for longer than a year, sometimes signing on for a year works wonders too, especially if you're interested in a place that heretofore rented month to month.
5. See How Long It's Been on the Market
Heather and I have lucked out with this one since moving to Massachusetts. The place we're vacating now sat on the market for nine months and we got it for a steal! The new place has been listed for about five months and that's worked out well for us too. This won't always be under your control, especially if you fall in love with a particular property, but it doesn't hurt to look for places that have been on the market for a while. The landlords are generally very eager to negotiate, just to get their property rented out.
6. Play Hard to Get
You'll have to feel out your potential landlord before trying this one, but it does yield good results sometimes. If you've ever come across a landlord, broker, or a real estate agent who swore up and down that there was another couple or tenant ready to move into the place of your dreams right this minute, you know what to do. Act indecisive, point out problems with the property, and don't seem too eager. If the landlord's eager to rent, this might make the difference. Just be careful, because it could go in the opposite direction.
7. Make Sure You're Worth It
If you want lower rent, you have to be worth it. Make sure that you've got a great rental history and superb credit. If former landlords had a lot of issues with your tenancy, a new one isn't going to feel inclined to be nice.
Sometimes, you just need to lower your rent by $100 – or even simply $50. You've got leverage, even if you don't realize it at first. If you research your area and similar properties, you'll see what's fair. Do you have a great negotiation story? Tell me the best thing you ever got from your landlord!