Metropolitan rents are usually unpredictable but the pandemic has exacerbated the problem leaving many renters a little confused. In 2020, some New York City renters signed new leases that were too good to be true. Others, poorly timed their lease signing, right before the city took a 20% cut to rents. But now it feels like we’re back to square one, with prices creeping back up. While markets are competitive and it may seem like you have to race to sign a lease, there is always an opportunity to negotiate.
If you’re planning to renew or sign a new lease, here are six tips for scoring the best deals.
1. It’s a tough market for landlords. Use that to your advantage.
Now is a great time to sign a new lease. Before the pandemic, things were a bit different. People would offer more money to secure an apartment before someone else. Now, there are more options on the market, and renters have choices. Sure, some neighborhoods and types of apartments are more demanded than others - but there is still record vacancy in New York City.
If you want to renew your current lease, you have the most leverage because landlords would rather avoid foregoing rent while they clean, paint, repair, and advertise an empty unit. Assuming you’re a good tenant and you pay your rent on time, the landlord should be trying to keep you in the apartment. Being in that position gives you a little bit more leverage than normal.
2. Be clear about what you want and why you want it.
Before entering a negotiation, look at prices in your desired neighborhood and come prepared to defend the number you are offering to pay. Walk your landlord through your thinking process of how you arrived at that price. Mention nearby apartments, as well as any accompanying amenities, when explaining why you want a reduction.
3. Think about anything else you might be able to offer.
Proposing a lease longer than 12 months may also make landlords more willing to accept a lower offer. Landlords are in a position where they want to secure that rent payment every month. If you’re at a point in your life where you can commit to an apartment for two years, definitely use that as a negotiation tool.
4. Once you secure a concession from your landlord, get it on paper.
Every landlord has a different preferred method of communication. Some like phone calls, while others are partial to email and text. Regardless of the platform you use to negotiate, it’s important to get a written record of any deal you agreed on.
If you do have conversations by phone, make sure you summarize that phone call in a follow-up email after. Get those details confirmed and signed in a document.
5. Rent isn’t the only thing you can negotiate.
While some landlords might be unwilling to negotiate on rent, that doesn’t mean they won’t make concessions. You can ask your landlord to cover a utility you normally pay for each month or if they will replace old appliances with newer versions.
Even if you are happy with the rent you pay and don’t have any issues with your apartment, that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for something. You could ask your landlord for a rent credit in exchange for a referral. In many cases, landlords might be happy to throw a $500 credit your way if you bring them a new lease.
Ultimately, you don’t get what you don’t ask for. Every tenant right now in this market should be trying to get some kind of concession in any way they can.
6. Be ready to walk away.
If you think a landlord’s asking price for an apartment is too high, don’t overpay. This is really your time. Do your research and do your due diligence. But don’t settle, because there are thousands of empty apartments to choose from.
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