When you find the perfect home that fits your needs and your budget, you feel very lucky. But that ideal apartment can become downright unaffordable if your landlord decides to hike up the rent.
If that happens, you might be wondering: Can you negotiate rent? If you approach it carefully, you can work with your landlord on a solution that works for you.
What happened to me
When my husband and I first got married, money was tight. With student loans and small entry-level salaries, our budget did not have a lot of wiggle room.
So when we moved 800 miles to Florida, an affordable apartment was a must. We spent weeks home hunting until we found a unicorn: safe, pet-friendly, convenient, and under $1,000 a month.
It was perfect, and for 12 blissful months, we loved our little apartment. But then it came time for our lease to renew, and our landlord informed us our rent would go up by over $250. I completely panicked. That would break our budget.
While I researched other homes, even if I found something comparable to what we were paying, the moving costs would be crushing. From hiring movers to buying supplies and getting a new license, moving is very expensive. Moreover, I loved our home and did not want to leave.
Can you negotiate rent?
Rent increases are a common part of leasing a home. Last year, rental costs went up 5.74 percent, outpacing inflation. In many areas, there are no limits on how much your landlord can increase your rent. A home that is affordable right now can cost far more next year.
Luckily, you have options. If you’re a good tenant and the area is competitive, you may be able to talk down the price.
If there are other apartment complexes in the area, look into their prices and amenities. Even if you do not want to move, having this information can give you ammunition. If other complexes have similar pricing but offer more space and upgrades for the money, that can help with negotiating rent.
Replacing tenants is an expensive process. The landlord will have to spruce up the apartment when you move out, including new carpet, paint, and other repairs. And reliable tenants are difficult to find. Many miss their payments, cause damage, or have other issues.
Every week that apartment is empty is a week your landlord is losing money. Keeping you, even at a lower rate, is more profitable. It makes good business sense for your landlord to work with you. That gives you more power to negotiate rent.
How I approached my landlord
I decided to contact my landlord with a well-researched case. I typed up the following email and sent it to the leasing manager:
Dear [apartment contact],
I just received our renewal information for our unit. While we’ve been very happy here, I am concerned about the increase.
I did the math, and the new price is a 26 percent increase over our current rate, which is way more than the industry standard. The increase would cause us to pay more than $3,000 a year in additional payments.
We would actually save money by moving into another home, even accounting for extra fees like getting new checks and changing utilities.
I looked at other apartments in the area, and [apartment name] less than a mile away has a two-bedroom of a similar size. They offer upgraded granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, and they charge what we are paying now.
We’ve been happy in this apartment. We like our unit, and we appreciate the staff’s hard work. We have never missed a rent payment, and in fact, we usually pay early.
We’ve carefully maintained the unit and tried to add to the community. If there’s any way to make it work, we’d like to stay. But right now, the price increase is more than we can afford.
I was hoping we could come to a compromise; we would be willing to do a 10 percent increase. That’s the very top of our budget, but we’d be prepared to pay that to stay in our home.
Thank you for your help!
The leasing manager responded quickly, countering with a higher offer. It was still lower than the initial hike, but more than we could afford. I told her that my proposal was all I could do. She pushed a bit more but I held firm and she ended up accepting.
By just sending an email, I was able to bring down the price hike to a $100 increase rather than a $250 increase. That saved us nearly $2,000 in what we would have paid over the year, and it allowed us to stay in our home.
Whether you rent a home from a large company or a private owner, the answer to “can you negotiate rent” is a resounding “yes!”
If you approach it calmly and make your case, you can save a lot of money and keep the home you love. As a good tenant, you come from a place of power when it comes to negotiating rent.
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