As a tenant, finding out that your rent is being hiked can be daunting. Rent increases are becoming very common, especially in high-demand cities. The annual average rent increase is between 3%-5%, which is something you might face once it’s time for your lease renewal. The good news is that you don’t have to keep silent; you can negotiate a rent increase with your landlord. This will help you reduce the financial strain on you and your roommate, by keeping your rent stable. If you don’t know where to start, don’t stress! Roomi’s here to help. Here are some tips to help you get through a rent increase negotiation.
Related: What Apartment Rental Fees Can My Landlord Legally Charge Me?
Why should you negotiate?
- It means more money for you. Say both you and your flatmate(s) bargain $50 off your rent each month, that’s $600 saved each year per person! Rent negotiation will help you save money for other needs and rainy days.
- If done right, it can boost the landlord-tenant relationship. Your landlord is human too, and how well you appeal for a rent reduction could improve your relationship.
- Personal reasons: You may have developed a love for your apartment, and even your flatmates. Maybe you work close to your apartment and you’ve perfected your lifestyle. This may make you reluctant to leave and is a solid reason for you to negotiate.
How to Negotiate a Rent Increase
1. Research is key
Start by checking the market prices of similar apartments in your area, and find your apartment’s actual worth. If your landlord is trying to charge more than the market rate, then you’ll need to negotiate. You don’t want to pay more for a rental that other tenants enjoy at a lower price.
Part of your research should include talking to other tenants around the area. Find out how much they pay for a similar apartment and compare. If they pay less, you can negotiate a rent increase with your landlord, especially during lease renewal.
2. State your case properly
Let your landlord know why you want to negotiate. Be as authentic as possible, and lay out the facts about your situation. Let them know how an increased rent would negatively impact you or your roommate(s). When you’ve done your research and understand more about the apartment’s rental value, it becomes easier to state your case. Preparation is key!
3. Bargain for upgrades
If you’re facing a rent increase that you can’t get out of, you can ask for an upgrade in your apartment. You may be willing to pay more to have an important upgrade or repair done. Don’t bring up a long list of improvements, but asking for one or two upgrades that reflect the new price is usually fair.
4. Make enticing offers
When trying to get out of a landlord increased rent, you can try making a compromise. Think about what your landlord might want in return to make an offer they can’t refuse. Here are some things to try:
- If you can see yourself staying in that apartment for a while, offer to renew your lease when it expires.
- Offer to pay rent a couple of months ahead in exchange for a rent reduction.
- Offer to do something that raises the value of the property, like repainting the walls.
5. State how good you’ve been as a tenant
If you and your roommate(s) have a great tenant track record, use it to your advantage. Bring up how you pay rent early, or how well you’ve taken care of the apartment. Landlords appreciate tenants who are non-disruptive, so remind them how trouble-free you’ve been and how you plan to continue in that way.
Related: How Much Rent Should I Expect to Pay in NYC?
6. Learn how much the landlord can legally increase rent
Get familiar with local and state laws about rent increase and lease renewal processes. Go over your current lease again, and check whether it mentions rent increase rates. This will help you go into rent negotiations being both well prepared and well informed.
7. Timing matters
Choose your timing well when it comes to rent increase negotiations. It’s advisable to negotiate rent during these times:
- A few months before your lease expires – you can ask for a lease renewal in exchange for reduced rent.
- During winter. Winter is a slow period for landlords since people move more during warmer months. They may be more willing to consider your case if they can’t find new tenants.
8. Be calm
Remember that your landlord probably has reasons for a rent increase. Being rude or lashing out while trying to negotiate won’t play out well for you. You have to be calm, patient, and respectful, so you don’t risk causing an even larger divide between you and your landlord.
9. Put the deal in writing
Deals put down in writing have more value, and can’t be easily broken. If your rent negotiations turn out successful, it doesn’t hurt to have it in writing – signed by both you and your landlord. It may be in your lease renewal document or additional paperwork. Wherever it is, it’ll help you avoid legal issues down the line.
10. If you don’t want to talk directly, you can write a hardship letter
Another alternative you can try is writing a hardship letter. With this letter, you can explain your financial situation and the burden a rent increase would cause for you and/or your roommate(s). Write the letter as though you’re in a real conversation, and properly state your case. You can even use some of the tips above, like mentioning that you’re a good tenant.
What to do when Rent Increase Negotiations fail?
If your negotiations don’t work, and you can’t afford to stay in the apartment anymore, then it may be time to find a new apartment. There’s a lot to consider when searching for a new apartment, but Roomi can help find the perfect choice for you! You could even choose to find a short-term rental until you’ve found what you’re looking for on a long-term basis.