Negotiating Rent on an Apartment

You love your apartment, but your rent takes up half your salary. Everything else in your life is starting to suffer: your social life, the fact that you're able to make only minimum payments on your credit cards, and a food budget that calls for a diet of mac and cheese and cold cuts instead of healthy produce and protein.

You're thinking about moving, but you have four months left on your lease. Plus, moving gets pretty pricey. Do you move now and break your lease? Do you move at the end of your lease? Or do you try to negotiate your rent with your landlord or apartment management office?

If you're considering the last option, do your homework before you approach the negotiating table:

  • Gather all available information on the prices in the area and within your rental community. Most apartment communities have what is known as a market rent, which is like the retail price on a TV set or the MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price) on a new car. Based on how the market is doing in your area, there may be discounts or specials offered to entice new residents.
  • Start talking about your rental rate with your neighbors. They might be paying less than you are, and you can use your neighbor's rate to negotiate your own.
  • Know what else is available in your area. Compare the features of your apartment with those of other apartments in the vicinity. Look at Web sites of the five closest apartment communities and call to find out their specials.
  • Ask about specials in your own apartment complex, too. Have friends call your complex to get the newest specials for what a new resident would pay.

If your apartment complex has a lot of empty units, this is also a good reason for your apartment management office to reconsider your rental rate. The last thing they want is to have another empty apartment when you move out.

After you've gathered this information, call your apartment complex and tell them you're thinking about moving. Explain that you've heard from other residents (don't name names) who are getting lower rates (mention specific amounts) for an apartment similar to yours. Ask for a matching rate. Explore other communities if need be. Weigh your options. Will your apartment offer you a better price? If not, how much will it cost you to move? Can you afford to move?

By doing the homework, you may end up with a more affordable rental rate or a brand new cozy home.