How to Negotiate Your Rent Payment

August 16, 2013

rent paymentThe lease on your home or apartment is coming up for renewal and you’re wondering about negotiating a lower rent payment, or at least to avoid an increase – how do you do that? After all, in many rental markets, an annual increase in rent is practically the norm. How can you fight the trend and get a better deal on your rent?

1. Know the rental market in your area.

Any time you negotiate anything you first need to know what the options are. When it comes to rents, that means knowing what the rental market in your area is like. Not only will you be well informed in the negotiations, but you’ll know how much flexibility you’ll have. If the market is tight and your rent is on the lower end of the range, you’ll have less room to negotiate. But if your rent is on the high end – meaning that there are better opportunities elsewhere – you’ll have the confidence you need to go forward.

How can you determine what the market for rents in your area are?

  • Check classified ads for rentals in the local newspaper or on Craigslist. That will give you a ballpark on the latest rents.
  • Check with real estate agents and rental brokers in the area.
  • Talk to other tenants in the area to see what they’re paying on their units.
  • Use a rental service like Rentometer. It can give you a rough estimate of rents on comparable properties in your area.

In using any of the above sources, be sure to get as much written evidence as possible, just in case you need to present it to the landlord during negotiations.

2. Pay your rent on time; better yet, pay it early.

Few acts by a tenant will create more of a warm, fuzzy feeling for a landlord than paying your rent on time. It shows that you are responsible. Your landlord comes to bank on the arrival of your check. After all, he has bills to pay too. When you pay your rent on time, you show consideration for your landlord’s financial situation.

By paying your rent early, you may come to be seen as the best tenant your landlord has ever had. Do you think that will have value when you negotiate your rent? Count on it!

3. Be the model tenant.

A better way to put it is to do more as a tenant than you need to. How do you this?

  • Keep the house or apartment showroom clean.
  • If you are responsible for maintaining the property, treat it as an owner.
  • Communicate regularly with your landlord on any issues concerning the property or the neighborhood.
  • Fix what breaks, and find a diplomatic way to let your landlord know any time you do.
  • Never bother your landlord over minor problems.
  • Ask yourself: “If I were the landlord of this property, what kind of tenant would I want to occupy it?” Be that tenant.

Why go through all of this effort to impress your landlord? Many tenants are less than cooperative. By doing at least some of the above, you will distinguish yourself as a good tenant; that can be worth money to a landlord. When the time comes to negotiate your rent, your landlord will be more agreeable to your terms.

4. Let your landlord know you like the apartment, the neighborhood and the community.

Generally speaking, landlords prefer tenants who are long-term residents. That will mean less repainting and repair work, both of which are standard any time a house or apartment changes hands. Let your landlord know that you like the apartment (or house), the neighborhood and the community. That preference will indicate that you are a contented tenant who is likely to stay longer. And landlords like tenants who like their property too.

5. Offer to perform services in lieu of rent.

One way to negotiate a lower rent payment is by offering to perform services in lieu of rent. This can include cutting the grass, if the landlord does it himself or pays a service to do it for him. It can also include performing certain repairs or even painting the home or apartment.

Since a landlord will have to do this work sooner or later, the fact that you are doing it for him could be worth money to him, or at least enough to drop the rent a bit.

6. Propose a longer lease term.

Once again, we get back to the fact that landlords generally prefer long-term tenants. If you are a good tenant too, the landlord may be very anxious to keep you around longer. Offer a two-year lease if the landlord will agree to lower the rent a bit, or at least to avoid raising it.

7. Be prepared to hear “no.”

If you do want to negotiate a lower rent payment, you will need to be fully prepared to hear “no.” If that is the case, you’ll have to decide how you will react to that before you even approach your landlord about a reduction. If you are not prepared to deal with a negative answer, you may want to avoid negotiating at all.

If a lower rent payment is truly important, you may need to be fully prepared to move in the event the landlord doesn’t agree. Your decision to leave may induce the landlord to lower your rent, but if he doesn’t, you’ll have to be prepared to make the move, even if that isn’t your first choice.

Just be certain that if you do plan to move, that a better deal does in fact exist elsewhere. You’ll know that if you took the first recommendation above, and researched rents in your area. If you know you can do better at another property, it’s an option worth taking.

Are you looking to negotiate your rent? Have you tried to before? Tell us your story in the comments!

Last updated by .

Kevin

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Kevin
Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, OutOfYourRut.com. He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.

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Comments

5 Responses to How to Negotiate Your Rent Payment

  • Kay V

    As a Landlord to multiple properties, I can offer the following points of view. I have had tenants ask for a lower rent but do it in a whiny/ complaining fashion, placing me as “big bad greedy landlord” – not advisable, Landlords know the comparable rents and will only accept an offer if the market allows for it. I have also have tenants say “I am paying your mortgage!” Also, not acceptable, I did not renew this tenant’s lease. The mortgage set up is none of a tenant’s business. A rental property is a business for a landlord and if your approach is business-like, then the landlord is more likely to listen to your request.

  • MoneyAhoy

    I think many people forget that just about everything is negotiable in life. Great article!!!

  • Kevin

    That’s actually one of the major take-aways on this post – treat the rental as your own.

  • KK @ Student Debt Survivor

    I’ve never tried to negotiate my rent, but I think they are great tips. Bf and I are considering buying a rental property and we sure hope our tenants will treat our property as their own.

  • Simon @ Modest Money

    Most of the times, I try to keep a distance from the landlord and negotiate on things that do not require me being nice or friendly to him, then again, its probably because I like squeezing every juice from rent money before I actually hand it over so point #2 wouldn’t work for me!
    Generally though, it pays to ask for a reduction, you never know :)

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