- Even though many people think it’s fixed, you can negotiate a lower rent.
- Negotiate a lower rent by offering your landlord or property manager something in return, like a longer lease, prepaid rent, or help around the property.
- The rental market adjusts with supply and demand, so compare your rent with that for comparable properties and then negotiate so that your rent is competitive.
Your monthly rental payment likely takes a big portion of your take-home pay. Many people assume that their rent is fixed—that there’s nothing they can do to lower the cost. For some, that’s true. But for others, there may be things you can do to negotiate lower rent. Even a $50-per-month savings can add up over time.
Rent may be negotiable when you’re applying as a new tenant, when you renew your lease, or if you’re renting on a month-to-month basis. Your situation and timing will determine the best negotiating approach to use.
Large property managers may be less open to negotiation than independent landlords, but it never hurts to ask. One simple question—is my rent amount open for discussion?—is all you need to open the door to potential savings.
Can you haggle the price of rent?
Yes, but keep in mind that the most successful negotiations are those that end in a ‘win-win’ for everyone involved. Be realistic, flexible, and open to compromise.
When you negotiate, avoid starting out by talking about your own budget woes. If your landlord sees you driving a nice car or using the latest iPhone, you may not get much sympathy. Focus your negotiations on the market—on comparable properties—and on you; your track record as a good tenant, and what you can offer in exchange for lower rent.
7 Ways to negotiate lower rent
Your rent may be more flexible than you think. Everyone’s situation is unique, but chances are good that at least one of these strategies will help you negotiate lower rent.
1. Compare prices and amenities of nearby units
Rental markets are constantly adjusting to supply and demand, so you might be surprised to find that you could get a lower rent or a bigger place for the same amount you’re paying today. Make sure your rent is in line with the neighborhood and type of property by checking sites like Zillow, Realtor.com, Apartments.com, Rent.com, and even Craigslist to see what comparable units are renting for. If you’re an existing tenant and don’t want to move, try chatting with your landlord to share the details of what you’ve found to start the negotiation. If you’re a prospective tenant and you see that the rental unit has been available for a while, this may be a good sign that you can ask for a lower rate.
2. Offer to extend your lease or end in a busy season
Vacancies and tenant turnovers cost money, so most property managers and landlords want to keep you if you’re a good tenant. Landlords have an easier time filling a vacancy in the summer, so if you’re a new tenant, you may have a better chance of negotiating a lower price if you sign on in the winter. You could also offer to extend your lease until summer in exchange for a lower monthly amount.
3. Pay several months in advance
If you’re able to swing this, ask if prepayment can lower your monthly rent. Your ability to offer this shows you are financially stable, making you a better bet as a tenant. Plus, it spares your landlord the worry about collecting on-time rental payments.
4. Ask if there’s anything you can do around the property
Busy landlords may be willing to lower your rent in exchange for help around the property. This can be anything from yard work and light maintenance to cleaning or trash management. You could even help recruit new tenants, and offer to trade one month’s rent as a ‘signing bonus’ for every new tenant you bring in. If you have tech or design skills, consider offering to help build or maintain the property’s website. If you’re handy, offer to repair something on the property that you notice needs fixing. Just make sure the value you receive in terms of lower rent corresponds with the time it will take for you to do what you’ve offered.
5. Give up a desired amenity
Be creative here. If you don’t need the parking space or bike storage, or if you don’t have a pet, ask if you can lower your rent in exchange for giving up those amenities. If you have a quiet unit or one with a view, consider moving to a less desirable space in exchange for lower rent.
6. Show your value as a tenant
Don’t be shy about pointing out the benefits you offer as a responsible renter. If you’re a prospective new tenant, provide references or letters of recommendation from your employer or previous landlord. If you’re an existing tenant, point out your history of on-time rental payments. If you have a high credit score, share this, since people who pay their debts on time are more likely to make on-time rental payments as well.
7. Follow proper negotiation etiquette
If you’re an existing tenant and want to negotiate a lower rent, start the conversation at least three months in advance of your lease end date, so you and your landlord have options. Meet in person to negotiate—be polite, respectful, and willing to compromise. If you’re nervous about the process, practice role playing with a friend, to become more comfortable with the conversation. Then when you meet with your landlord or property manager, be specific in terms of what you want, but have a back-up plan in case you’re not able to reach a solution that works for you. And finally, if you’re able to negotiate a better deal, be sure to get the details in writing.
Anything can be negotiated, even rent
It’s important to be realistic, especially in a tight rental market, but don’t be shy about asking if there’s a way you can lower your monthly rental payment. And when you are successful in negotiating lower rent, congratulations! Be sure to put your monthly savings to work.