Tips & Guides / Leases

How to Negotiate Rent

By Bri Hand | Dec 8, 2021
Portrait of happy, laughing millennial woman looking at camera showing key from new rented apartment after negotiating her rent.

If given the choice between negotiating rent with their landlord and taking a five-hour calculus test, many people might break out their calculators and sharpen their pencils. This is because negotiating rent can be one of the most stressful conversations a renter has with their landlord.

But negotiating rent doesn’t have to be a sweat-inducing, heart-beating exercise. By following the below tips and tricks when it comes to negotiating rent, you can approach your landlord with confidence, turning a stressful conversation into a calm, friendly chat. This guide covers:

  • Tips to negotiate rent
  • Reasons to negotiate rent

Let’s get started!

Tips to negotiate rent

Although negotiating rent’s not exactly rocket science, knowing what to say and when to say it is incredibly important when attempting to lower your monthly rent. 

To that end, here are five helpful tips to help you successfully negotiate your rental agreement: 

1. Do your research

The importance of good research can’t be understated. Whether you’re negotiating rent, arguing a court case, or writing an English essay, research is often the difference between successfully advocating for your position and going home empty-handed.

In short, research shows your landlord that you know exactly what you’re talking about. Plus, arguments supported by facts and figures are hard to dispute.

To best prepare for the rent negotiation, research the following:

  • Average rent: When negotiating rent, use market data to your advantage. For starters, research the average rental price of similar units in your area to have a better idea of the market.  If you live in Atlanta, for instance, and units similar to yours are being rented for $1,200/month, but you’re paying (or are expected to pay) $1,300/month, you can use this to justify a $100 decrease in monthly rent. In addition, be prepared to discuss the national average rent.
  • Cost of living: The cost of living differs based on area. In general, the cost of living in a city is higher than in a rural area. If your monthly rent far exceeds the average cost of living in your area, you may be able to negotiate a lower rent.
  • Other rental companies: Unless you live in a very small town, chances are your landlord is one of many in your area. Use this to your advantage by mentioning what other rental companies are doing to entice new tenants. For instance, if another company in your area is offering to waive first month’s rent, mention this to your landlord. Renting is a business, after all, and no one wants to be behind the competition. 

Of course, no amount of research can make up for impolite or aggressive behavior during the negotiations. Read on for our next tip about being polite while negotiating.

2. Be polite

There’s an old adage in the sales industry: “People buy from people they like.” While you’re not actually selling a product to your landlord, you’re selling an idea. If your landlord doesn’t like you, there’s little chance they’ll be willing to negotiate the price of rent.

This doesn’t mean you have to appease your landlord, but it does mean you should negotiate rent in a polite, formal manner.

Never go into the meeting with the expectation that your landlord will lower your rent. Instead, approach the topic in a calm, confident manner. If your landlord doesn’t meet your asking price, your attitude may encourage them to compromise.

3. Start small

If you go into your meeting asking for a large decrease in rent, chances are your landlord will quickly say “no.” After all, they’re running a business and have ends to meet. But, if you ask for a reasonable reduction based on your market research, the likelihood your landlord or property manager will compromise dramatically increases.

It’s always best to start small. That way you don’t sound too demanding. Also, instead of asking for a reduction in monthly rent, it may prove more fruitful to ask for a reduction in other living expenses including:

  • Security deposits
  • Pet fees
  • Application fees

Reducing these expenses can also result in big savings in the long run. That said, why not skip these extra fees altogether? Be sure to check out rental options that don’t require security deposits and application fees.

4. Approach it at the right time

Negotiating rent at the wrong time can lead to major disappointment. Thus, correctly timing the conversation is crucial to a successful negotiation. In general, winter is the best time to negotiate rent. 

Why? Winter is the rental industry’s slowest season, making it difficult for landlords to find new tenants. If you’ve found a new rental with a lease that has good terms, but it has a higher rent price, winter is an ideal time to negotiate costs. 

In addition, be aware of the following timing considerations:

  • Day:  The first of the month is usually a bad time to negotiate because this is when most leases start. Also, the first of the month corresponds to an influx of new applications, decreasing your leverage.
  • Season:  If winter’s the best time to negotiate, summer is the worst. This is because summer’s the rental industry’s busiest season. Landlords are more likely to say “no” to your request because they most likely have a surplus of applications.

At the end of the day, negotiations are all about leverage. Amass as much leverage as possible by correctly timing your negotiation.

5. Offer value 

Some landlords may be willing to reduce your rent if you provide a service of equal value. 

For instance, instead of asking for a $100/month rent reduction, offer to provide monthly maintenance equal in value to the amount you’re asking. That way, both parties “win” the negotiation.

Other ways to exchange rent for value include:

  • Provide landscaping around the property
  • Perform marketing tasks
  • Maintain the landlord’s website
  • Offer to help prepare apartments for new tenants

While there are many things you can do to help your landlord, ensure the service you offer is of equal or greater value to the rent reduction.

It may also be helpful to ask for a reduction in rent based on amenities. For example, if your landlord charges a parking space fee but you don’t own a car, you may be able to reduce your rent based on your disuse of this amenity.

Reasons to negotiate rent

When it comes to the landlord-tenant relationship, it’s easy to assume that the landlord has the final say in all matters. After all, it’s their property, right?

While it’s true that your landlord owns the property and is in charge of crafting the lease agreement, this doesn’t mean you have absolutely no say in the agreement’s stipulations.

In fact, politely voicing your opinion on an important issue such as rent can actually improve your relationship with your landlord. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why negotiating rent with your landlord can lead to more than just monetary gain.

1. Saves money

Let’s get the obvious benefit out of the way: Negotiating your rent to a lower monthly price can save you more than a few bucks. Lowering your rent, even by a slight amount, can lead to big savings in the long run. You can then use these savings to do the following:

  • Furnish your apartment
  • Pay off loans and debts
  • Save money for future moves
  • Spend more on entertainment

As stated above, while it’s always beneficial to reduce rent as much as possible, even marginal reductions can lead to more money in your pocket.

For example, let’s suppose you’re able to get your rent lowered by $30 each month. Although this doesn’t seem like a large amount, reducing the rent rate by $30 each month translates into a savings of $360 per year. Hello, additional car payment! 

2. Strengthens relationship

As weird as it may seem, negotiating rent with your landlord can actually improve your landlord-tenant relationship. 

This is because politely negotiating rent demonstrates to your landlord that you’re not only open to communication, but that you’re also confident—and confidence often leads to respect.

That said, if you approach the conversation aggressively or overly demanding, your relationship may sour quicker than a jar of sauerkraut.

3. Provides learning opportunity

Life’s full of difficult conversations. Why not practice navigating tricky conversations early and often by negotiating rent? 

Learning how to negotiate rent can help you later on down the road—especially when it comes to conversations involving finances or legal issues.

What’s more, negotiating rent can help you understand the following:

  • The fine details of contracts, especially rental agreements
  • How to calmly negotiate with a boss or superior
  • How to devise an argument and support your argument with points

Negotiating rent can lead to more than monetary savings. It can give you the confidence and knowledge to stand up for yourself in any situation.

Landing: your hassle-free, haggle-free rental option

For most people, negotiating rent with your landlord is a conversation fraught with anxiety. That said, there are ways to make negotiating rent as easy and carefree as talking about the weather.

To successfully negotiate rent, it’s important to heed the above tips. Or, you could bypass this conversation altogether by choosing Landing

A rental option unlike any other, Landing, provides fully furnished apartments with flexible lease terms. This flexibility means negotiating rent’s a thing of the past—the ball’s always in your court. Sign up today and start living haggle-free tomorrow.

Bri Hand

Bri Hand is Landing's Content Marketing Manager. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her partner and dog, Arlo, but relishes any opportunity she can to travel so she can try new foods, see gorgeous sights, and daydream about living somewhere new after visiting there for less than 24 hours.