So your lease is up for renewal! It’s most likely that your landlord or property manager will do what they can to keep you renting their apartment.
61 percent of landlords polled by the real estate website Zillow said they would accept a lower rent payment if there wasn’t much competition for a property. This means there is a good chance for you to negotiate a lower rent cost!
There are also many benefits to renewing your lease, such as avoiding the cost and hassle of switching apartments, paying movers, and security deposits. It also makes sense to renew during the pandemic while work from home orders are in effect and no one is really able to travel freely just yet.
If for whatever reason you are unable to renew, you can continue to pay rent after your lease is up, but also know that as you transition into a month-to-month tenant, there’s a chance you’ll be paying more than you need to.
Here are some things to be aware of when negotiating your rent increase.
1. Understand where your landlord or property manager are coming from
Depending on which state you live in landlords are allowed to raise your rent by the legal limit. In Seattle there is no rent control, so oftentimes, properties will increase rent rates based on market rates. In San Francisco, rent control exists, and landlords and property managers are not allowed to raise the rent beyond a specific percentage.
Understanding local rent control laws, or the lack of, can help you create a negotiation plan to present to your landlord or property manager.
2. Convince the landlord of your worth
Generally, property managers and landlords want to keep a tenant in an apartment. This is because finding new tenants can be costly, especially if renovations or updates are needed before the place can be put back on the market. In our current climate, it may also be not ideal to facilitate new move-ins during a pandemic.
Set up a meeting with your landlord to convince them of how you have always paid your rent on time, how agreeable you are as a tenant and how much you’d like to continue living here as long as the cost stays within your monthly budget.
3. Stay calm, and ask politely
Make sure to make an appointment before going in to negotiate your rent. Approach your landlord calmly and respectfully. Be prepared with any market information or research you have done to present your negotiation to your landlord.
It might be good to also point out the positives of living in the unit and what you’ve been really satisfied with during your time living on the property.
4. Do market research
If you’re presented with a rent increase, research other apartments in the area to determine if it would be worth it for you to move. Look for units that are approximately the same size with the same amenities. You’re more likely to find a better deal elsewhere and can use this information to your advantage.
Use this information during your rental negotiation process so that you can get a better rate. Present the numbers and to your landlord and see if they are willing to work with you.
5. Talk to your neighbors
It might be a good idea to talk to your neighbors and survey what rental rates are for them versus you.
Use this information during your rental negotiation process so that you can get the rate you want to continue living in a place you love.
6. Small landlords may be more willing to negotiate
If you live in a smaller complex or rent from someone who owns a single home, it may be easier to negotiate your rent. Larger complexes may be more difficult because the turnover is high, they use software that sets rental rates against market conditions and rates, they may not have any control over the negotiation process, or they may not have difficulty filling up apartment units, so they can offer someone else a more competitive rate.
Smaller complexes and their landlords may be more flexible as they cannot afford the expensive software and are more willing to keep tenants as long as they are agreeable and respectful.
7. Consider asking for upgrades
If your rent is increasing, consider asking your landlord to make a significant replacement or repair to your apartment. While renewing the lease, try to negotiate an upgrade or repair to your unit. It doesn’t hurt to try and will help create renter loyalty and satisfaction.
8. Request a long term lease
Asking for a long-term lease can mean there’s a chance of you locking in a good rate. Remember that most landlords want you to stay. Try to negotiate a discount if possible. We were once able to negotiate a two-year lease at a $50 discount each month when we lived in Seattle, Wash.
This is also great because you don’t have to worry about negotiating again until the lease is up.