Here are some negotiating strategies you can try when you’re trying to lower the rent on a home.
Renting a home in the U.S. isn’t as affordable as you might think. In fact, compared to owning a home, renting is more expensive in more than 40 states, according to a recent GOBankingRates.com study. But don’t lose hope just yet.
If you’re looking for cheaper rent on a home you love, give these negotiation methods a try.
1. Research thecompetition
“You have to know the area well,” said Irvine, Calif., real-estate agent Benny Kang. “There might be a rental property down the street that is on the market for $100 cheaper that has the same square footage, lot size, layout, etc. You can use that as leverage, showing (the landlord) that property isn’t our only option to rent.”
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A quick search on Zillow or Trulia can provide you with a pretty accurate picture of what rent is going for in your desired area. And for a landlord, lowering a property’s rent is often a better choice than having the property sit, which could potentially cost the owner more money than saying “yes” to cheaper rent, Kang said.
2. Offer a long-term lease agreement
When negotiating rent, give a little to show you’re invested in the home, too. For example, Kang recommended offering the landlord a longer lease.
Landlords prefer tenants who commit longer, as they won’t have the headache of finding a new tenant, prepping the rental, and so forth, said Kang. Cleaning a rental could very easily cost $500, and hiring an agent might cost 6 percent of one year’s rent, he added.
3. Sell yourself
A landlord’s worst nightmare is having a tenant who leaves the place in deplorable condition. If you want to lower your rent, prove you’re not a risk of devaluing the property.
“I had a neurologist relocating to Atlanta,” said Atlanta-based rental-property manager Bruce Ailion. “He had a $90,000 per-month-salary, a stay-at-home wife, a 2-year-old and a 10-pound dog. He wanted to rent a luxury home. He was willing to pay a $1,000 nonrefundable pet deposit and a six-month $18,000 deposit for other damages.”
Ailion said good income, along with a sizable deposit, got his client “a competitive rate where most luxury property owners would not rent to someone with a pet at any price.”
If you don’t have the means to show monetarily that you’re not a risk, don’t worry — Ailion said you can show the landlord you’re a solid rental candidate by having glowing references from past landlords. You might even want to include pictures and videos in addition to statements.
4. Offer to handle repairs and maintain the property
If you don’t mind putting in a little bit of elbow grease on a rental or spending money on maintenance, offer these services to an owner when negotiating rent.
“Simple things, like offering to maintain the property — leaf and snow removal, garbage and recycling — even minor maintenance and repairs are very attractive to absentee and/or aging landlords,” said Janine Acquafredda, an associate broker for House n Key, Realty in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Although Acquafredda said most people might be fine with shaking hands on these terms, you might want to have the agreement spelled out in a lease.
5. Show your landlord the money
Who wouldn’t want to receive a stack of cash up front? According to Kang, most landlords would find this offer enticing, even if it means lowering the rent.
“This is a great way to build credibility and to get a discounted rate,” he said.
Kang recommended offering a landlord three months or more up front. The owner knows they won’t be stiffed or receive late rent, and you get a rental at your preferred price.
Another option is to produce the first month’s rent and deposit with a solid application when requesting cheaper rent. This could work for a place that’s been listed for a while.
6. Just ask
Simply asking for cheaper rent could work — in the right scenario, of course.
Megan Wells, a content strategist in San Francisco, was looking for a two-bedroom rental with her boyfriend last year. They found a suitable place for $3,300 in the Richmond District — but it was $300 over their budget.
Wells said the apartment was part of a four-unit building where the most desirable ones leased within days. The remaining two had sat for several months at the same price.
“Knowing they were eager to get the units filled, we tried our hand at negotiating the terms,” she said. “We didn’t mince words. We simply said, ‘If you drop the rent by $300, we’ll apply and sign today.’ It was a very simple conversation, they agreed — and we got the rent we were hoping for.”