You can try to negotiate just about anything, and that includes the amount of rent that you pay. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will be successful – it all depends on the current market conditions and how you go about negotiating.
Don’t try to negotiate once you have signed a lease
Let’s be clear – the time to negotiate is before you sign a new lease. This is when you have all of the power – once you sign a lease, you have a legal obligation to pay that amount every month, so the landlord has no incentive to reduce your rent. If you decide to take unilateral action and pay less than the full amount, you will just end up in court – and likely out on the street.
Think about the market conditions
If the demand for rental properties is very strong in your area, then it is highly unlikely that a landlord will negotiate a lower rent. After all, if you decide not to take the property, someone else very quickly will. On the other hand, if demand is low, you may well get a great deal on rent if you ask. Landlords are often happy to get a lower rent, rather than waiting a long time before someone moves in.
Before you start to negotiate, you need to get the facts about the market – otherwise you will just end up wasting your time. Find out how quickly rental properties have been turning over where you live. An excellent way of finding this out is to get information about vacancy rates – if these are high, there is a good chance that the market is very sluggish. Also find out what other similar properties are renting for, either by talking to friends who live in the area or by looking at online ads.
Timing is everything
If you are looking to rent a new property, then it’s often better to talk to the landlord at the end of the month. In general, landlords are more likely to negotiate at this time, since there is a good chance that the property has been unoccupied for a period of time.
If you want to stay in the same property, then you do need to be relatively careful with your timing. First of all, the only way a landlord is likely to drop the price is if you make it clear that you will move out if the rent stays the same. Because of this, you need to be prepared to move out – which means you need to start negotiations well in advance so that you can find another property to rent if negotiations don’t succeed. On the other hand, it’s a bad idea to start negotiating too early, since this gives the landlord plenty of time to replace you with another tenant.
Learn to negotiate
If you have never negotiated before, the chances are that you will not be successful – or at least will feel very uncomfortable during the entire process. If this is the case, consider starting with something simpler – for instance, try to get a discount from your cable company by threatening to switch providers.