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Negotiating with your landlord for a lower rent

Posted by: Prashant Gopal on April 20, 2009

I wrote a story recently about apartment landlords trying to keep tenants from moving out by agreeing to lower rents. Some tenants, especially in New York City, have been able to negotiate 20% rent reductions.

I’ve come up with a list of tips for negotiating with your landlord and I’m hoping you can help me build on it. Send your suggestions here. Also, I’d love to hear about your experiences with rent negotiation. I take it that not all landlords are as flexible as the ones in Manhattan.

here’s my list:

* Contact the landlord a month or two before your lease is due to renew.
* If your renewal is 6 or 8 months away, be a model tenant. Don’t be noisy. Pay your rent on time. This will help you when it comes time to negotiate.
* Do some research before contacting your landlord. Find out what other buildings are charging and what incentives they are offering. See what your landlord is charging new tenants for similar units.
* Have a backup plan. Start searching for a new apartment. Even if you don’t move out, it’ll give you a sense of the market and some good options if your landlord refuses to negotiate.
* Tell your landlord or property manager exactly what you want. A month of free rent? Lower annual rent in exchange for signing a two-year lease? Gym membership thrown in? How about moving upstairs to a larger apartment or an apartment with a balcony for the same rent?
* Be reasonable. If you ask for too much, or if you are too confrontational, your landlord might not be inclined to strike a deal.

Reader Comments


May 1, 2009 12:54 PM

tell your landlord:
- unemployment is record high
- foreclosures record high
- mortages record low
- gas prices down more than 50%


May 9, 2009 9:45 PM

Please understand that apartment complexes cannot negotiate the rent once it has been proposed BECAUSE IT COULD VIOLATE FAIR HOUSING! We cannot give a discount to one tenant and not to every other one in the same style that is expiring similarly regardless if the other residents have not asked for it. Managers want to keep model tenants but have to pay the increasing bills as well.


June 20, 2009 10:43 AM

The woe of our bills argument is old & weak. NY, Landlords have all PROFITED very well in this free market system...For the most part, you sit back and live off the hard work of your tenants and mexican are truly parasites in this system. Housing is so crucial to an individuals well being and health of the community that it should never be viewed as a commodity to be profited from. Work for your money like the majority of us.


January 27, 2010 7:43 PM

I agree, Rob. I don't think anybody should be profiting, especially for things like housing, healthcare, education, food and things of that nature which should be all for the public good.


March 4, 2010 5:23 PM

I hope Jeff was making a sarcastic comment. That is a pure socialist attitude in which you condemn someone for making a living. If you don't like it build your OWN house. Or if you are jealous, become a landlord yourself. If you don't want to live in a free market capitalist society. Move to a different country like Spain or Russia which embraces those same ideals. I believe that the founding fathers of America knew what they were doing when they set up our system in which people can move up in life through had work and ingenuity. All though I really think that Jeff and Rob are losers working dead end jobs paycheck to paycheck with no motivation. Which is fine if that is what you want to do, but don't get mad at someone else for taking the initiative to improve their status.


March 31, 2010 4:16 PM

Drew I'm in total agreement. Jeff and Rob would benefit from some critical reading via Atlas Shrugged.

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BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.

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