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Five tips for a stress-free apartment rental negotiation

By William Taylor | April 8, 2014

If you’re looking for a new apartment, you’re not alone. The Census Bureau reports that more people move to a new rental during the summer (May to August), than any other season. With vacancy rates across the country down, and rental rates up, it’s a landlord’s market, and it can be a challenge to find what you want at a price you can afford. Here are five negotiation tips to help you through your apartment search.


1.  Research the market

Before you hit the streets looking at places, start with some online research. This will help you find out what current prices are in different neighborhoods, for different types of apartments.  Looking at sites online is an excellent way to get a lot of information on rental prices, amenities, and availability, without ever leaving your computer. You can narrow down your list to the best prospects, and you’ll know what typical prices are for that area and property type.  This information can be useful when it comes to negotiating your lease.

2. Know your priorities

Price is a top priority for most renters, but what else is important to you? For some, access to convenient public transportation is a main priority. Other people may be looking for a private parking space, a swimming pool or gym, or access to nearby bike paths. Knowing what is most important to you will help you narrow your search. It will also help you negotiate with potential landlords. If they know you really don’t want the view of the parking lot, perhaps they can find something different to better meet your needs. Be clear about your priorities as you start your search.

3.  Consider options

Sometimes you can achieve better results in a negotiation by thinking outside the box and exploring other options. For instance, if the landlord normally does 12 month leases, you could offer to sign up for a longer term, like 15 or 18 months. This might get you a lower rent, because it makes it easier on the landlord who doesn’t need to find a new tenant as soon. They save on turnover costs, and you might be able to save on rent.

4. Act like a good tenant

How you interact with a potential landlord during the first few minutes will be the basis for their impression of what type of tenant you would be. If you’re loud, abrasive, or difficult to deal with during an apartment visit, they will assume that’s what type of tenant you would be.  If you’re polite, well-spoken, and professional when you meet with them, they are far more likely to want you as a tenant. If you do move in there, you will have a relationship with this landlord for months or years, so you might as well start off on the right foot.

5. Don’t rush it

If you leave yourself in a situation where you have to move by next week, then you may be forced to settle for something less than optimal. Leave yourself ample time for your online research and apartment visits, and you’re more likely to find a deal that both you and your wallet are happy with. Conducting a thorough research and negotiating rent in advance can save you time. Moving in the last minute is so stressful, not to mention that you won't have enough time to really check your new flat in detail.

Are you ready for an apartment rental negotiation? Put your power face on and let's go hunting. Let's assume that you stumbled upon a really nice flat that you absolutely adore. Don't get too excited in front of your landlord because you'll give him reasons to increase the rent. Be a good negotiator - look for issue where there are no issues, look confused and try to seem indecisive. Mention you have other offers and you'll certainly draw some attention.

Find a good rental in today's economy is tough. Landlords are not renting their flats to everyone because they can't risk delayed rents and excuses. Be a smart negotiator and don't back down from a good deal. Discuss with your opponent, try to reach mutual ground, and settle on a deal that suits both of your equal. It's the only way you can win.

William Taylor is a professional blogger and content writer. The Gap Partnership are the negotiation specialists. They provide workshops on negotiation in 12 languages in over 50 countries. You can follow on Twitter via @tgpnegotiation.
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