Friday, 21 August 2015

While most people understand it's almost expected of them to negotiate the price of a new car or a house, few realize that plenty more things can be bargained for–including rent.

In other words, just because a landlord quotes you one monthly rate doesn't mean you can't get it for less. Keep in mind that landlords typically loathe losing reliable, quiet tenants, since occupant turnover costs them money in vacancies and cleaning, as well as time and hassle finding quality replacements.

Try some of these tactics to help lower your rent:

Do your homework

Comb through online listings comparable to the unit you're looking to rent. Consider square footage, age, the condition of the place, and its location. You should also understand the vacancy rates in the neighborhood–this can give you a sense of how competitive the marketplace is. The U.S. Census Bureau puts out quarterly reports on this data, and your local tenants right's association may have more current information.

Devise a strategy

Before approaching the property manager, write a script of what you'll say, and prepare lines of questioning based on any different variables they may respond with, like utilities and building amenities.

Be nice

Studies find that people's likability is one of the most important factors in their ability to communicate and negotiate. Be honest and respectful. If you're approaching a current landlord you've already been dealing with for years, do so when the lease is up for renewal to avoid implying that you may break your lease.

Also, have the conversation in person, unless you typically have communicated with them through email or phone calls. If that's the case, stick to the consistent method both parties are used to. Be pleasant–but also be routine.

Show your value

If you have a track record of being an awesome tenant, be sure to point that out. Don't be afraid to remind your current landlord of your low-drama track record, and that you've always paid on time and don't throw wild parties. And tell a prospective landlord that you're happy to provide references from previous leases.

Share your research

Share what you believe the market rate really is. If you're negotiating with your current landlord, explain that you'd like to stay, but you can clearly get a better deal elsewhere. Show them listings of similar places in your area, and ask if they can match those prices.

Point out property flaws

If some features in the apartment are sorely outdated or in need of repair, mention them in your discussion. If you think the worn-out flooring or damaged siding lowers the rental value–and you can still live with it–ask for a lower rate. If you're handy, you can also offer to make the repairs yourself in exchange for a break on rent.

Propose an exchange

If you have the time and skills, suggest lending a hand around the property in trade for a discount. For example, you could offer to haul the trash and recycling to the curb, assist with the lawn care, or paint wherever it's needed. Make specific suggestions about what you can do, and don't wait for the landlord to notice that it needs doing.

Offer to prepay

Ask for a discount in exchange for paying multiple months in advance. Your landlord may not say yes, but it doesn't hurt to check.

Be open-minded

Even if you don't get what you ask for, consider the other party's counteroffer, or work together to brainstorm a win-win solution. For example, maybe a month-to-month lease is attractive to you, or a temporary discount in exchange for a longer commitment. And signing a multiyear lease to lock in the current rate can work in both your favors.

The best agreements are win-win

After all, this person knows where you live.

 

The content provided is for informational purposes only. Neither BBVA Compass, nor any of its affiliates, is providing legal, tax, or investment advice. You should consult your legal, tax, or financial advisor about your personal situation. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BBVA Compass or any of its affiliates.

Links to third party sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement. BBVA Compass does not provide, is not responsible for, and does not guarantee the products, services or overall content available at third party sites. These sites may not have the same privacy, security or accessibility standards.