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When to Negotiate Rent With a Landlord

You May Have the Upper Hand in Certain Situations

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A landlord just may agree to lower your rent after some negotiating.

© Claudia Veja / SXC

It may seem too good to be true, but you might be able to negotiate rent with a landlord. Many apartment hunters don't bother trying because they assume that the stated rent for an apartment is simply what must be paid to rent it. Also, many tenants who fall in love with an apartment or find a suitable option after an exhausting search are understandably hesitant to haggle with a landlord for fear they'll lose the opportunity.

Although it probably never hurts to try talking a landlord into lowering the rent, there are certain situations in which you're most likely to be successful. Keep these situations in mind as you hunt for apartments:

  • You're looking for an apartment in a renter's market. When you hear it said or you read about how we're in a "renter's market," this means that apartment hunters like you generally have the upper hand. This is because there are too many vacancies in your area, too little demand, or perhaps some of both.

    In a renter's market, landlords must be competitive to earn your business. Indeed, smart landlords think of ways to get that extra edge on the competition during a renter's market. For instance, a landlord may offer a new amenity or offer concessions such as waiving a customary parking fee, paying the broker's fee, or giving new tenants a free month's rent. If you're interested in an apartment and the landlord isn't offering any concessions, you'll have a good chance of succeeding in negotiating a lower rent in a renter's market.

  • You're interested in a vacant apartment. It's one thing if you're looking to sign a lease for an apartment right after its current tenants leave. But if an apartment has been vacant for a while, it means the landlord should be hungrier to find a replacement. Keep in mind that for every month the apartment stays vacant, the landlord loses a month's rent. So, the longer the vacancy, the greater your chances of convincing a landlord to cut you a break in the rent.

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