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How to Negotiate Your Rent

Today, I’m going to teach you the 5 rules on how to negotiate your rent so you can save a couple thousand dollars -- or more -- this year.

Ramit Sethi · November 24th, 2015

leaseagreement

Today, I’m going to show you exactly how to negotiate your rent so you can put a couple thousand dollars — or more — in your pocket this year.

Most people don’t think negotiating their rent can save them much money, but they’re wrong. Just look at the results for two of my students:

Quiz: What is your earning potential? Choose the answer you agree with the most
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“With a 12-month lease, that is a savings of $1800!”

“I was paying $1585 (up from $1515 about 1.5 years prior) and I’d lived in the apartment for 3 years. When I went to ask for a rent reduction, the office kept on insisting that I was already paying “market rate.”  I let them know that I was serious on leaving if they didn’t give me a lower rate…. They agreed to give me a rate of $1435 which is $150 off my previous rent!  With a 12-month lease, that is a savings of $1800!” — Sharon C.

“I was able to save $2400 for this year!”

“My lease renewal was coming up and the rates around where I live were going up at a phenomenal rate too… I wanted to stay at a lower apartment fee or the same. Initially, the leasing office turned down my request. However, when I mentioned that I’d be willing to sign a lease for 12 months – they went ahead and reduced my rent by $200 a month. The year has barely started and thanks to you I was able to save $2400 for this year!” — Sophia

Your rent is NOT fixed and beyond negotiation. You can lower your rent…if you know how to negotiate. The key is going into a negotiation with the right mindsets and preparation.

Why most people don’t negotiate their rent

There are three things that stop people from negotiating their rent.

  1. They don’t think they can
  2. They think negotiation is sleazy or pushy
  3. They think you’re either born with the negotiator gene or you’re not

None of these are true, as you’ll learn in this post.

But first, you need to realize that negotiation is not about stomping your foot down and demanding what you want in a very confrontational way. True negotiation isn’t adversarial at all. In fact, the best negotiation comes from finding a true middle ground.

Negotiation starts by clearly understanding both people’s intentions and positioning your offer in a way that clearly benefits you and the other side.

I want to walk you through the specific steps you should take to dramatically increase your chances to negotiate your rent down.

Rent Negotiation Rule #1: Know what you want

Want, need and must have conceptional drawing on the chalkboard

If you walk into a rental negotiation without a number — the rent you want — you’re at the mercy of a landlord. Most likely they won’t even entertain the conversation.

When you know what you want, not only can you communicate that crisply to your landlord, you can demonstrate WHY they should accept less.

This is a simple step, but important: Determine the exact rent reduction you want.

Rent Negotiation Rule #2: Know who you’re negotiating with

Of course, you can’t just say, “I want to take $200 per month off my rent!” You have to be ready to offer something in return.

What does your landlord really want? Money, of course. But dig deeper and you’ll find there’s a lot more you can offer. The goal is to give them something you don’t care about in exchange for something you do.

Here are a few things many landlords will happily lower rents for:

  • Prepay months in advance
  • Sign an extended lease
  • Offer to extend the termination notice from 30 days to 60 or 90 days
  • Offer to give up your parking space if you don’t have a car (The landlord could charge another tenant for an extra space.)
  • Promise not to smoke in the apartment (This will save the landlord money when you move out.)
  • Promise not to keep cats even if they’re allowed (Another cleaning expense for the landlord.)
  • Make a deal for referrals if they have low occupancy

If you know what you want and you know what they want, the chances of succeeding in your negotiation increase significantly.

Rent Negotiation Rule #3: Practice relentlessly

moneydowndrain

Most people will lose tens of thousands of dollars over their lifetimes due to their failure to practice upcoming negotiations. Actually, most people won’t negotiate at all. But even the people who negotiate rarely practice. It feels “weird.” Who would I practice with? What do I say?

Then again, if you don’t practice, why would you expect to convince someone whose likely intent is on keeping your rent exactly where it is, if not raising it?

So grab a friend or a coworker and do a role play. No need to worry about whether it feels awkward or not. Would it feel awkward to save thousands of dollars?

Rent Negotiation Rule #4: Don’t shoot your first basket in the NBA

I’m trying to use more sports analogies to fool people into thinking I care about sports. As you can tell, I have a long way to go.

Anyway, your first rental negotiation shouldn’t be against a reluctant landlord. Start off small — in a real-world environment — at your local farmer’s market. Try negotiating on Craigslist.

You want several zero- to low-risk practice runs under your belt before you get to the real negotiation. This practice will likely be worth hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Rent Negotiation Rule #5: Don’t let the failures stop you

There’s a classic psychological technique called the “Door in the Face” technique. It goes like this:

“Hey Mike, would you donate $50 to the Save The Whale Foundation?”

“Hell no.”

“Ok, how about $5?”

And then the donations increase dramatically.

If you’re negotiating, odds are you’ll fail. That’s fine — expect failure. Embrace it. And figure out a way to go in stronger next time.

Get my word-for-word negotiation scripts

When it comes to negotiating your rent, keep in mind that your landlord probably wants you to stay in the apartment as much as you do. Every time there’s turnover, it costs your landlord money.

So as long as you don’t go into the negotiation expecting him to reduce your rent too far below market value, while offering nothing in return, there’s a good chance you can come to an agreement that you’re both happy with.

If you’re ready to get started, I want to share two word-for-word email scripts that will help you kickstart the rent negotiation process. Totally free, my gift to you. Just sign up below and I’ll send them to you.

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