Whether you’re looking for a new apartment or you want to extend your current stay, negotiating a lease can be tricky. Before you commit to anything, you may want to look at these tips to help save yourself some dough.
Compare your estimated monthly rent to online listings for similar units in your neighborhood, says U.S News and World Report. If you think you’re being overcharged, it may be a good idea to reference a listing price for a similar unit to help strengthen your position. Landlords know you’ve done your homework if you can say something like, “OK, but a larger apartment down the block is $200 less per month.”
You may also want to consider asking a real estate agent for some advice on nearby rental prices and vacancy rates. He may be able to tell you about the demand in your rental market or give you an idea how long it may take your landlord to find a tenant for your unit. If it could take a while to get a new tenant, your landlord may be willing to work on the price.
Before speaking with your landlord, you may want to think about practicing your conversation with a friend or family member. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. You may also want to figure out the lowest rental price available in the complex. This may help give you some leverage toward a lower price or at least help you and your landlord settle on a price in the middle, says Zillow.
Keep in mind that timing is everything, and you may not want to start wheeling and dealing the second you walk through the door. Establish a rapport. Try and give your landlord a reason to want to cut you a break, says Zillow. If you start playing hardball right away, you might turn him off.
Generally, finding tenants can be a hassle. If you are looking to stay in the area longer than a year, your landlord might find it appealing that he won’t have to advertise the rental and prep it for showings after 12 months. He may be more open to negotiating if you’re able to commit to a longer lease, says The New York Times.
Don’t forget that everything is negotiable, says MONEY. Your rent isn’t the only thing you pay monthly. If you’re creative, you can probably uncover a deal somewhere along the way, says The New York Times. If your landlord won’t budge on monthly rent, it may be a perfect time to ask about parking fees, free carpet cleanings or larger storage spaces.
If you’re handy, you may want to offer to do some renovation work around your apartment, says Apartment Therapy. Generally, if it saves your landlord the labor cost, he might be willing to pass some of the savings on to you.
You could also volunteer to do some work around the complex, such as helping with landscaping, cleaning the pool or clubhouse. In exchange for your services and time, you may be able to negotiate a rent decrease. Of course you’ll want to get it in writing before you start.
By doing your research and taking a few proactive steps, you might find some extra money in your pocket after negotiating your lease.
Originally published April 10, 2013.