“Everything’s negotiable,” we’re always told. But is it true? For example, can you negotiate rent with a property management company or landlord?

If current rent prices have you worriedly checking the balance in your bank account, rest easy. There are indeed steps you can take to make sure affordable apartments remain a part of your future.

1. Be a Good Tenant

You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Being a pleasant tenant helps you approach a rent negotiation with goodwill on your side. Property management is a business, and every business appreciates attracting and retaining great customers.

A tenant who adheres to the lease agreement and is also considerate of other renters — not playing loud music late into the night, for example, or hogging the laundry room — is a great customer that any landlord would want to keep.

An outstanding record as a good tenant is especially appealing to private landlords. For them, renting space out is not so much a vocation as it is a means to make some additional revenue.

2. Do Your Homework

Data is your friend. The more information you have about the apartment rental market in the area, the better. Your goal should be to demonstrate discrepancies between the rent you pay and lower rent, for comparable space, at similar units around town.

Fortunately, there are great online resources to find different rent prices. Expand your data gathering efforts beyond just the rental price, as well. Do other apartments offer amenities your current place does not? If so, be sure to highlight those differences during your pitch.

3. Do It In Person

If at all possible, open negotiations with a face-to-face conversation. Doing so ensures you receive the attention you deserve (it’s easy to ignore an email), underscores your sincerity, and allows you to expound on data points in a way that an email attachment simply cannot.

An email and any attachments can come as part of a follow-up to your in-person meeting.

Your follow-up message may look like this:

[Put Your Landlord’s Name Here],

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me yesterday about potentially reducing my rent at [put your address here]. Such a rate reduction will help me continue being a tenant here. That alleviates any time or effort you must take to find a replacement.

A rent reduction makes sense, since [repeat your data-backed reasons here].

I look forward to hearing from you!

[Put your name here]

4. Sweeten the “Ask”

Knowing how to negotiate rent also means understanding what you can offer your landlord or property manager in addition to retaining you as a tenant. Here are some suggestions as to what you may be able to provide as part of your rent reduction negotiation:

  • A lease extension, ensuring your landlord they’ll have a great tenant for a while longer.
  • A temporary, rather than permanent, reduction in rent. Reducing your rent for even just six months is a lot better than lowering your rent for zero months.
  • A couple of months prepayment at the reduced rate.

5. Know When To Walk Away

It’s one of the principal rules of the Kenny Rogers classic, “The Gambler.” Right up there with knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em, you have to know when to walk away.

Remember the research you did on “apartments for rent near me” as part of your negotiation pitch? Other apartments that seemed so promising in theory may well be worth a closer look in practice.

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