My lease renewal arrived it the mail a few weeks ago, bringing with it a small but significant rent increase. I’m hardly alone: Nationwidee, average rents rose by a heart-clutching 14% last yearand financial forecasts have for months been warning of additional increases in. in the first half of 2023. It sucks to learn it’s going to cost you more every month to live in the same spot you’ve been inhabiting months or years, but it seems like an unavoidable part of being a renter.
But is it? You can’t always avoid a rent increase, but you may be able to find ways to reduce it. Here are some tips for negotiating Down a rent increase before signing a new lease.
Remember, your landlord is a person
Sometimes, all you have to do is ask. I once had great success by simply emailing a landlord and saying I simply could not afford the increase. Even though you may rarely see your landlord, even if your rent is auto-debited from your banking account every month, there is usually another human being on the other end of things, and sometimes, all it takes is an appeal to their better nature.
My anecdotal evidence might not convince you, but at Truliaa real estate company, the experts say the same thing: You can negotiate directly with your landlord, at least to a point, but you have to know what to negotiate, and how to do about it. It’s expensive for a landlord to find a new tenant—probably more expensive than agreeing to lower your rent, unless the increase is truly egregious. They don’t necessarily care about you as a person, but they do care about not forcing you out, because that means they will suffer lost rent and other turnover costs, from painting or cleaning your unit, to listing it and paying a real estate broker to find a new tenant. Don’t threaten them, but do note in your initial email that you’re concerned the rent increase may impact your ability to stay in the unit, and that you’d like to open negotiation.
Show evidence that you’re a good tenant
Just as you’d prepare for a one-on-one meeting with your boss by compiling evidence to show you’re a stellar employee, you should go through your bank statements and payment history to prove it that you’ve consistently paid your rent on time. Provided you haven’t caused the landlord any major headaches-like damage to the unit that was your fault, or a string of noise complaints—you should also make the case for how easy you’ve been to deal with.
Present proof of your timely payments, plus any other evidence of what a model tenant you are, like proof of that reported an issue in your apartment in a timely way so as to avoid further damage. Per Trulia, providing documentation of your overall trustworthiness Not only remind them how lucky they are to have you as a renter over an unknown—and potentially unreliable—future tenantbut demonstrates that you’re “committed” to the apartment.
Speaking of: Ono option is to offer to sign a longer lease on the condition the rent doesn’t go up. Landlords tend to love longer leases because they preclude the long, expensive hunt for a new tenant for a few more months. They want reliable income, and you want reliable housing. This is a good deal for you bothprovided you are sure you’re willing to commit to the area for two or three more years. Trulia also suggests paying more up front if you can, another way to show you’re a reliable income source—but if that’s not be a financially feasible option for you, syor have other tools in your arsenal.
Research comparable rents
Is the rent you are being asked to pay comparable to other units in the area? Hit up a rental site and look up all the units nearby. Compile a list of those most similar to your own in size, location, amenities, then make a spreadsheet noting their asking prices. Present this information to your landlord only if your rent increase will put you significantly out of line with the average of the other units. This is more likely to be taken as aggressive (since you’re basically accusing them of overcharging you), so only take this step if your increase will truly put you out of line with the average for your area.
Don’t forget to chat with your neighbors too. Money is a sensitive subject, especially if you and your neighbors aren’t chummy, but you’re all aligned in wanting to live in your building for a reasonable rate. Brick Underground, a New York-based company that helps real estate consumers make informed choices, suggests asking neighbors about their own lease renewal processes to get a sense of how the landlord negotiates and what exceptions and accommodations they’ve been willing to make in the past. If you know your neighbor has a similarly sized apartment, don’t be afraid to ask what they pay. if the vibe feels right (in my experience, the vibe always feels right for New York City renters, but your experience elsewhere may vary). They could even be paying more than you, which means you’d be helping them Negotiate in the future also.
Most importantly, don’t be rude or aggressive with your landlord if you can avoid it. Try to negotiate in person, if possible, and maintain a calm demeanor. If you act out, they might not see you as someone they are want to keep in the unit. If you appeal to them in a direct but level-headed manner, you can have a real conversation. Go in with all your documentation at the ready, And know in advance whether you’ll be willing to make concessions like accepting a smaller increase or signing a longer-term lease.
Armed with proof that you’re a good tenant and comparable rents from the area, you’ll be able to make a good case—but make sure you begin your efforts well enough in advance of the end of your lease that you’ll have time for some back and forth…and to find a new apartment if you need to.
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