How to Negotiate Apartment Leases

When we enter into an apartment lease, we don't initially consider negotiating as we would with a new home purchase. Especially in the current economic situation, most landlords are willing to negotiate at least on some of the terms. Landlords need renters as much as the renters need a new place. In most cases, landlords won't approach the rental agreement as negotiable, but with a few tips the contract can be open to negotiation.
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A while ago, I met a potential roommate and she was telling me about the great deal she received on her last apartment. She explained that by being confident and asking some key questions, she was able to negotiate a lower rent that was previously stated as non-negotiable. We never became roommates, but I will always remember the great advice she shared.
  • Be confident. Landlords respect potential renters who are confident and knowledgeable. You will receive favorable treatment.
  • A little charm and friendliness goes a long way. Have you ever worked at a job and a customer took an interest in you as a person, which resulted in you dropping your guard and going the extra mile to help him/her? Open up the conversation with a question such as "How is your day?" or another question that leads to "breaking the ice."
  • Ask many questions to become familiar with the rental agreement. Helpful negotiating questions/points are: "How long has the unit been vacant?" "Are the neighbors friendly?" "Have previous tenants smoked in the unit?" "Do other tenants have pets?" "What is the typical noise level in the building/neighborhood?"
  • Get all the details up front. Ask for details in writing regarding the security deposit, maintenance, pet policy, rent due date, and lease term.
  • Let the landlord know that you have other apartments/leases that you are considering. If you are a good potential tenant, they will want to win your business.
  • Be upfront and honest with all concerns. Having open communication from the beginning helps develop a solid landlord-tenant relationship. A tenant's honestly makes the tenant more attractive to a landlord and thus they are more willing to negotiate.
Happy savings!

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Marcia is an interior, portrait, and travel photographer and has photographed over 50 homes of creatives. Her photographic style is capturing her subject in the most natural state and creating an emotional response.

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