Renting is hard. It’s easy to get lost in the length and language of rental agreements, but it’s important not to get discouraged when that happens. Rental agreements are fundamental documents that lay out the details of your tenancy, so when you’re ready to negotiate their terms, give them the attention they deserve with the help of these tips.
Research the Property
Like prepping for a job interview, make sure you know about the property you’re negotiating. Research the market so you know a reasonable price to ask for (and to expect). Read up on comparable properties in your neighborhood so you can use them as references during the rental discussion. There are resources that can help here, including online rent indexes that list comparable prices and vacancies for major cities.
Research the Landlord
As a tenant, you’re in partnership with your landlord, so get to know them. Look at other properties they own to see those rental rates. The more prepared you are (to a reasonable degree but leave off the Facebook stalking), the more comfortable you will be while negotiating. And remember that negotiations are two-sided; so try when you can to consider what both parties will get from the deal. Be ready to compromise.
Read the Contract
It’s worth repeating, even though it sounds obvious. But rental contracts need to be read, and read carefully, so that you know what rights you have as a renter, and what responsibilities are yours (versus your landlord’s). Have a lawyer, or a law-minded friend, read over the contract if possible. And when negotiating changes to an already existing agreement, be sure you write them all down and both you and the landlord initial them, on each copy of the contract. This ensures the changes are legal and binding.
Rent Isn’t The Only Negotiable
Rent isn’t the only element of your tenancy that you can negotiate. If the landlord is unable or unwilling to lower the rent, even after you’ve done your research and asked for a reasonable decrease, you can address other aspects. Look at landscaping, or maintenance of the unit. Perhaps you can do a little yard-work to offset some of your other costs. Think creatively.
Approach your rental agreement negotiation with respect and preparation and you’ll be well on your way to a better contract. If you have any questions or concerns, get in contact with your local real estate agent. They know your neighborhood and will be able to help you negotiate it.