First Person: How to Negotiate Rent

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After years of giving in to ever-increasing rental rates in a city populated by private landlords and no rent control, I finally priced myself out of the market. I could no longer afford to live in a decent area. I thought I was going to have to relocate to another city, but on a whim I tried to negotiate the rent - and it worked. Now I negotiate before I sign any lease. Here is how I do it.

Make a Good Impression

The first step to getting what you want in most situations is to make a good impression on someone else. After all, if the landlord doesn't like you, he probably isn't going to be willing to work to have you as a tenant. I've found that the best way to make a good impression on a potential landlord is to be professional and punctual. For example, I always show up to any apartment showing a few minutes early. If I think there is a chance I'll be late, I call ahead. It shows the landlord that I'm at least somewhat responsible.

Have a Figure in Mind

It's hard to negotiate when you don't know what you're trying to negotiate for. Start by having an idea of what you can pay in mind. When you're viewing the apartment, use that time to decide what you think the apartment is really worth. Make your offer based on that information.

Know What the Apartment Is Worth

Many landlords know the market and price fairly, but some simply overprice because they're not sure what to charge. In these situations, it doesn't hurt to point out that you have seen several similar apartments and that were charging less rent, but you'll have to know the market yourself to pull it off. I keep a list of rent prices in each neighborhood of my city. That way all I have to do is look at the list to see if the landlord is overcharging or pricing fairly.

Sweeten the Deal

Of course, the old saying, "You get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar," is usually true, especially in business situations. The best negotiating tactic I've found is to offer a better deal than the landlord is currently asking for. For example, if the landlord wants a one year lease, I'll offer to sign a two year lease at a lower rent rate. The bottom line - bribing works.

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