If you’ve found the apartment you want (or it’s time to renew), and you wish the price were lower, be strategic and take action. You never get anything unless you ask, so here are tips for negotiating lower rent.

Know the rental market

Look around. What are the rates at apartments near yours? Compare apples to apples. If you’re interested in a new development, then look at other new developments.  Make sure you have a clear understanding of the amenities that are available and how they compare to the unit you’re considering.

Rental rates are not a secret, but they can change from day to day. Get a competing rate in writing if you can, and if it’s lower than the one being offered, have it with you when you go to negotiate.  A lower rate in a similar apartment is a great tool for negotiating a lower price on your own apartment.

Sell yourself as a good tenant

If you’ve never rented in that particular complex, than a few letters of recommendation will go a long way toward convincing a manager you’d be a tenant worth having, even at a lower rate. Get a letter from previous landlords or apartment managers, which say you pay your rent on time and don’t cause problems.  Get letters which speak to your character, from a former boss, neighbor or someone in a non profit orgranization or your church.

If you’re trying to renew your lease at a better rate, remind the manager that you’ve always paid your rent on time, and anything else that’s positive. Have you kindly alerted them to maintenance concerns? Have you helped in an emergency? Have you assisted during holiday parties?

Make an offer (& be creative)

Think like a manager. What would make his or her job easier?  You could offer a lesser monthly amount in trade for giving up a parking space, or helping with new member socials. You could offer to sign a slightly longer lease, making yours expire in spring, which is prime rental season. Don’t be afraid to ask what your manager needs. If he or she has flexibility on pricing (and they ususally do) then you might be able to help each other.

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