When apartment hunting, it’s easy to get into the mindset of “what you see is what you get.” Especially if you’re in a time crunch, taking a lease’s terms at face value is often the simplest and quickest route to finding a new place to live. However, that doesn’t mean lease negotiation isn’t an option— in fact, it happens more often than you might think!

Think about it this way: The longer apartments sit vacant, the more money landlords lose. For that reason, lessors are looking to fill their units as quickly as possible, which means they may be willing to cut a deal. Keeping that in mind, if you’re about to start your apartment search, here are eight tips for a more successful lease negotiation:

1. Understand Who You’re Talking To

Lease negotiation is almost always worth a try, but there are some instances where it’ll probably be more successful. Here’s a general rule to keep in mind: Independent landlords are more likely to make a deal with you, while leasing companies are less likely.

When you’re looking at an apartment that’s owned by a larger company, the lease terms are usually firmly set, so the person showing you the unit isn’t often authorized to negotiate with potential renters. However, independent landlords make their own lease terms, which means they can adjust them if they want to. Know which type of landlord you’re dealing with going into the negotiation, and you’ll be better prepared for the outcome.

2. Know Your Stuff

One of the most crucial steps in any successful lease negotiation is research. Take some time to look into other apartments in the same neighborhood to see how much they cost per month (just make sure you’re comparing apartments with similar features and amenities). If the landlord is asking for more per month than the average rent price you’re finding online, you may have a better leg to stand on when it’s time to negotiate.

You may also want to research the rental market as a whole in the neighborhood. If vacancy rates are high or rental rates are low, your landlord may be a bit more willing to make a deal just to make sure the apartment doesn’t stay empty indefinitely.

3. Be Upfront

The best way to enter into a lease negotiation is to be completely upfront. Start with something along the lines of, “I’m very interested in the apartment, but the rent is a bit out of my price range. I’d love to see if we can come to a compromise that works for both of us.” Landlords will appreciate the honesty, and you’ll find out quickly whether negotiation is on the table.

4. Sweeten the Deal

You’re much more likely to make a deal for lower rent if you’re able to offer your landlord something in return– and believe it or not, you may have more to offer than you think. Here are some potential ways you can make the sweeten the deal:

  • Give up a parking spot if you don’t have a car.

  • Sign a longer lease. Landlords lose money every time a tenant moves out because they have to clean, paint, and repair any damage, all while not getting any income from a renter. Signing an 18-month or 2-year lease means they won’t be losing that income.

  • Offer to pay two or three months of rent in advance if you can. Your landlord will appreciate getting a larger sum in advance, and this also shows that you’re responsible financially, which is a very attractive trait.

5. Show Off Your Rental History

Speaking of being financially responsible, it’s important to show your landlord that you’re a good tenant– someone he or she would want living in the apartment. Provide references from previous landlords, proof of income, and even a co-signer if you think it would help.

6. Be Willing to Budge

Another key component of successful negotiation is being flexible. Maybe the landlord isn’t comfortable lowering the rent as much as you’d like, but he or she offers to take care of paying water each month instead. Negotiations have to work for both parties, so be willing to budge a bit on the terms you’re requesting.

7. Be Friendly

This should be obvious: Be friendly, kind, and respectful. Enough said.

8. Have Other Options

Finding the perfect apartment is an amazing feeling, so if you find a place you love but can’t quite afford, it can be easy to put all of your energy into trying to make a deal. However, keep in mind that lease negotiations are never a sure thing, so it’s always a good idea to have options.

Continue searching for apartments so that you have something you can fall back on if things don’t work out the way you’d hoped. If you end up making a deal, the feeling of accomplishment will be that much sweeter.

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