Once your rental application has been accepted, it’s time for the next step: negotiating the lease. This can be a touchy topic for renters, because let’s face it: one wrong move can push the landlord to choose somebody else over you. But in rental markets that aren’t as competitive, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a better deal. Here are some tips for smart negotiating strategies to get you off on the right foot.
Note: if you’re apartment hunting in a super-competitive city where bidding wars over rent are common, negotiating may not be a realistic option. Negotiating during the winter months, when rental season is not at its peak, may also be more successful.
Do your research.
If you want favorable results, you need to do your homework on the rental market in your area. Do some shopping around – what is the current market rent in the neighborhood for apartments with similar amenities, number of bedrooms, and square footage? When you negotiate, you want to come to the table with a reasonable offer and research to back it with. A proposal that’s reasonable is more likely to be accepted. Lowballing could result in an insulted landlord – or worse – losing the apartment to another, more agreeable, applicant.
Great renter? Look the part.
Your landlord will not want to strike a good deal with a rude and unappreciative renter. Hopefully your credit report already proves that you’re financially reliable, but on top of that you should show the landlord that you’d make a respectful and dependable resident. Landlords ultimately screen renters to make sure their units go to renters who will follow the rules, pay rent on time, and be good neighbors. Smile, dress neatly, be polite, and show that you’re willing to listen: a good impression can make the landlord more willing to negotiate.
Don’t have a perfect rental record? Explain yourself.
If you have negative marks against you on your credit report or background check, explain your situation and emphasize that it won’t happen again. Landlords may be more willing to give you a chance if you’re honest with them and clarify the situation.
Remember you’re asking the landlord for a favor – they’re not obligated to oblige. Don’t be a stickler for them to give you everything you ask for, lowered rent, parking space, and all. Listen to their side and be open to compromise. Perhaps instead of lowering the rent, you could add in some amenities like extra parking, or accept reduced rent in return for a longer lease. See what your landlord is open to – you never know until you ask.
Image by buddawiggi via Flickr.