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Negotiating the Cost of Rent

Many renters mistakenly believe that they do not have freedom in which to negotiate rent prices with a landlord.

Not only is this untrue, it could be costing you hundreds of dollars a year if you are a renter who has been too timid to ask for the various discounts that could be available to you.

Negotiating rent may be able to help you get an affordable apartment that may have been just out of your price range. The first step to strategizing the best approach for rental negotiations is to determine what sort of building you are renting in.

Is your apartment building owned by a large corporation in a high demand area with a high amount of renters waiting in line for their turn to access the commodity? If so, an outright rent negotiation may not be in the cards, although the alternate money-saving options we will cover here may still apply to you.

Is your apartment building owned by an independent landlord of a smaller company or in an area that does not have high rent prices? You probably have some wiggle room on rent cost and other financial perks.

Here we outline the best approaches to asking for rent discounts and actually getting them. Success is all about the way you position your requests, compromise and creative thinking.

Incentives and Rewards

Most apartment complexes offer new renters leasing incentives and rewards for signing on, signing a lease of a particular duration, being smoke-free or any of multiple other personal options. If you are a long-time resident of a complex like this, ask your landlord for a similar perk in the form of a loyalty reward.

If new renters receive 10 percent off for signing a 12-month lease, negotiate for that same 10 percent to be applied retroactively to you for every 12-month period you have been there.

This can significantly shave your monthly rent outlay and is fair to both you and the landlord. Perhaps there are discounts, cash-back rewards or rent-free months available to new renters for referring friends. Ask your landlord for the same rewards to be made available to you and then start referring people you know to your apartment complex.

Generally speaking, when you hedge your negotiations around incentives and rewards alongside services or helpful tidbits you bring to the table, landlords see you as a resource they are more than willing to pay (in diminished fees and rent) to keep.

Taking the Long View

The greatest mistake you can make in attempting to negotiate rent reductions is to focus on rent price alone. Remember that negotiations are all about finding a balance between what is good for you and what is good for the landlord.

Your landlord may or may not be open to discussing outright rent discounts, but may be highly interested in talking with you about an extended lease or a full upfront cash payment of the entire lease. Volunteer to sign for a longer lease in exchange for a reduced monthly rate, a waived pet fee, free pool membership or even furnishings.

Most landlords are interested in a stable tenant and your willingness to stick around for a longer period suggests commitment.

Similarly, any business owner knows that cash in hand is better than the promise of cash that may or may not materialize in the future.

By offering to pay your full lease upfront in cash you not only offer your landlord an immediate miniature windfall, you are saving him or her the monthly stress of wondering about money that may or may not come in and this is a virtue likely to be deemed worthy of reward.


In this era of downsizing, the tiny home craze and the do-it-yourself ethos that has taken over popular culture, less is definitely more. When you are thinking about ways to reduce your rent, let this be your mantra. Maybe you can offer to take a unit that is seen as less desirable because it is on the ground floor with no real view in exchange for diminished rent.

Perhaps you can express interest in units that have less popular layouts, need mild repairs or are smaller than what you might have originally planned for.

Approach your landlord with the plan to take one of these less popular units and turn it into a tidy little studio in exchange for a rent discount, free parking, a new appliance or other financial perk that suits you. Do not be afraid of the give and take.

Ask for what you want and be aware of what you are offering. If you are willing to make do with less square footage or closet space, you are likely to end up with more money in your pocket.

Show off Your Positive Aspects as a Tenant

At root, a landlord wants a tenant that he or she knows will take good care of the property. When you are approaching your landlord for anything, especially a rent discount or other financial term, make sure you are presenting yourself in the best possible light.

For instance, if you are handy with tools, offer to become the complex’s unofficial part-time repairperson in exchange for a lower rent price point. Maybe painting is your strong suit and you could make an arrangement to paint units before they are transferred to new owners, or volunteer your free time to picking up litter, teaching a class or offering child care within the complex.

Think of ways that your particular skill set could be of use to your landlord and utilize those aspects of yourself as leverage in rent cost negotiations.

Always carry on all negotiations or official conversations of any kind with your landlord in person. It is important that he or she sees that you are serious and responsible. Follow up any official talks with written correspondence. This could be a short thank-you note and a reminder of what was discussed or even a written contract outlining the terms of your new agreement, depending on what is needed.

No matter how the negotiation goes, send a note of recognition and thank the landlord for his or her time. Putting things in writing makes them more permanent, and you might be surprised how far etiquette can go in swaying a landlord’s perception of your requests.

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