12 Unexpected Perks You Can Negotiate When You Sign an Apartment Lease

published Sep 6, 2016
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(Image credit: maetisa)

Maybe you found the perfect apartment after weeks of fruitless searching, but the rent is just a wee bit out of your budget. Or maybe you just received the renewal notice for your current apartment from your landlord, and your rent is getting bumped up a lot more than you’d like for next year. Your first step, in either case, is to negotiate a lower rate. But what do you do when the landlord won’t budge?

If you’re a good tenant (paying on time, even early), you might find that they’re willing to give you a break with some free or discounted perks instead. It’s like negotiating a new job—when the salary isn’t flexible, you go after improved benefits and extra vacation days. While the perks aren’t exactly the same as a reduced rental rate, they can mean money in your pocket.

When the rental rate is fixed, here are 12 other concessions you can ask for instead:

1. A Parking Spot

Is there one spot included with your apartment? Or none? In some places, a parking spot is harder to find than an apartment (I’m looking at you, Chicago), but if your neighborhood or property allows, you might find your landlord is willing to throw in an extra spot or an extra parking pass to help make the apartment more worth your while.

2. (More) Guest Parking Passes

Similarly, if your daytime or overnight guests are at the mercy of a patrolled lot with a parking pass system, you can ask if the landlord will throw in extra passes for those times you’re hosting overnight guests and a dinner party on the same weekend.

3. Aesthetic Upgrades (and Smart Home Gadgets)

If you’ve already lived in your apartment for a year or more, there’s no doubt you have a mental list of things you’d change about the place if you owned it. If your landlord is increasing the rent on you, tell them you’ll agree to the rate with some conditions: They replace the crappy faucet with one you choose, and get the thermostat replaced with a Nest.

Of course, you don’t have to wait for the landlord Ten Things You Should Upgrade in Your Rental (and Then Take With You)

4. Professional Cleaning or Other Services

If your renewal rate in non-negotiable, ask the landlord to throw in some professional services if you renew, like a professional carpet cleaning or maybe a visit from a landscaper a few times per year. You can also ask that the services that already pay for—like an exterminator perhaps, or a window cleaner—make more frequent visits.

(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

5. Permission to Do Projects

If you’re more of a do-it-yourself type, your lease renewal might be a good time to ask for permission to tackle something previously verboten that you’ve been wanting to change about the space, like painting the walls or painting the kitchen cabinets.

6. A Washer and Dryer, or a Dishwasher

Is the apartment missing some desired amenities? Let the landlord know, and remind them that their investment will pay off down the line: “You know, I’d be willing to pay that rate if the apartment came with a washer and dryer. Would you consider investing in laundry machines for the unit?”

7. An Upgrade to a Bigger or Better Apartment

If you know there are other vacancies in your building, you can use the lease renewal opportunity to jump up to a unit with a better floorplan or a bigger footprint. Or negotiate your way to be first on the waitlist for that unicorn apartment with the rooftop terrace, if the people living there ever decide to leave.

8. On-Site Storage Space

Are there storage units available for rent somewhere on-site? Or maybe your 1-unit landlord keeps the shed behind your rental house to themselves. Ask if they’d be willing to throw in use of the storage space if you agree to the higher rent.

9. A Waived Security Deposit

This is a deal that corporate apartment complexes love to throw at new tenants, but you can certainly ask for it if you’re dealing with a smaller landlord operation, or if you’re renewing a lease where you’ve already dropped a deposit—ask if they’d consider honoring the new-tenant specials and refunding your security deposit right now (after an inspection) with a renewed lease.

(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

10. Reduced or Waived Pet Fees

If your landlord won’t budge on the base rent, but is asking for a pet deposit or pet rent on top, see if they have any wiggle room to reduce or waive the pet fees.

11. Access to Amenities

If there’s a pool or gym in your community that charges a monthly fee, you might be able to have the landlord throw in a membership.

12. A Month of Free Rent

This one requires some suave negotiating skills, but you’d be surprised how the right mix of conditions (and being willing to sign a longer lease) can get you a free month of rent. It works especially well for tenants who are renewing their lease during a “down” month, like summer in a college town: Remind your landlord that it would take them more than a month to clean out and find a new renter to move in between the spring and fall semesters, but you’d be happy to renew your lease for the next 14 months if they give you June for free. And that way, the next lease ends in August for them—prime time to find a new tenant.

Re-edited from a post originally published 9.6.2016 – TW