Have you ever wondered how to negotiate your rent? Negotiating for cheaper rent before you sign or renew a lease can save you hundreds of dollars a year that you can put towards investing in your future or getting out of debt faster. But what if you want to get a lower price in your current apartment? That’s what I’ve been doing recently.
Sometimes it’s easy for us to get comfortable and complacent with the cost of our rent, even if it’s steadily increasing every year. Below are 11 creative ideas I’m using to negotiate for lower rent.
1. Use a strong financial history as a bargaining chip. If you have a steady income, history of paying on time and never missing a rent payment, use that as a bargaining tool. Apartment managers often get so busy reminding the other tenants to pay on time, they forget the good, consistent tenants. So remind them.
2. Sweeten the pot with your skills and talents. Each of us has skills and abilities we can use to barter for lower rent payments. Find out if the complex needs help with marketing and offer ideas on how they can find new tenants. Keeping the current tenants happy is a big deal too, so plan a mixer or monthly party. This reinforces a positive community and might help lower your rent too.
3. Work for the apartment manager. If you enjoy DIY projects or are good at fixing things, you can offer to work for the apartment manager or landlord on the side. This is one of the most obvious things that comes to mind when thinking about how to negotiate rent. The apartments managers or landlords are often quite busy with tenants and the superintendents are overworked. Do some of the small things like painting, cleaning or collecting rent, in exchange for a discount off your monthly payment.
4. Earn rewards by paying your rent online. Writing a check as payment is so 1990’s, but many landlords and property companies only take checks or money orders. If you prefer to do everything electronically (like I do) and earn cash back using a debit/credit card, you can use a free online service, to pay your rent. Sites like PayYourRent.com and WilliamPaid.com both offer the option to pay using a cash back rewards credit/debit card. Cash back for paying rent? Yes, please.
5. Offer to pay a small deductible on any repairs. A new idea to reducing your rent is to pay a small deductible on any repairs. Offer to pay up to $150 or so, for small repairs and maintenance. Of course this creates a higher risk for you, but with the amount of money saved each month, it could be worth the risk.
6. Negotiate a discount for paying early. If you can pay your rent a few days early, ask to get a 5% or 10% discount. You could even pay bi-weekly payments, if they correspond with your paychecks. This can help your budget, while lowering your expenses. The feeling of certainty for a landlord, is key.
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7. Research the competition. Knowing the area and competition is one of the best ways to negotiate a better price. Maybe the complex down the road is offering a better price to their tenants, and you can use this knowledge as leverage. You want to make sure they know, they aren’t the only place on your list.
8. Sign an extended lease. If you want to live in the same area for several years, ask if you can sign an extended lease agreement, for several years. In exchange negotiate for $50 – $100 off each month’s rent. A landlord would much rather have the discounted but consistent income, than leaving the place vacant.
9. Become the building superintendent. Another way to reduce the cost of rent, especially in a big city, is to volunteer as the superintendent. This means you will have to available and on call for repairs, take out the garbage and perform other tasks as needed around the building. It will take some work on your part, but the savings pay off, could be well worth it.
10. Pay 3-6 months in advance. Paying several months to a year in advance is a great way to “flash some cash” and get a discounted rate. Calculate the price your willing to pay each month then multiply by 3 – 6 months, then offer this lump sum as payment. It’s pretty difficult for anyone not to take an good amount of money upfront.
11. Threaten (nicely) to move out. If you already have a lease that’s up for renewal, give yourself plenty of time to negotiate. If things don’t go your way, the landlord knows you will have time to cancel the lease and move to another, cheaper location. Show them you are serious about negotiating, but of course do it a nice manner.
In the end, just ask. If you’re proactively figuring out how to negotiate your rent, you’re already on the right track. Even if you try a few negotiating techniques that don’t seem to be working in your favor, the best thing you can do is just ask. Show off your good financial history, do your research, and be confident when negotiating. Maybe they won’t work with you right now, but at least you did everything you could to increase your chances. It never hurts to ask.
This article is part of our Budgeting Tips Resource Center. If you’re looking for additional information about budgeting tips, be sure to pay a visit!
Image credit: Patrick Goossens