Help me negotiate a new lease
January 31, 2009 10:51 AM   Subscribe

How should I go about negotiating a new lease with my leasing company? Ideally I would pay the same or less in monthly rent.

In the past, I've found that property managers of large residential real estate companies tend to avoid negotiations by arguing that the decisions about rent increases (always increases) are mandated by the home office. This seems absurd, but maybe it's true. Yet I know for certain that the vacancy rate is higher than it was when we moved in, and it seems like I ought to have a good bargaining position. What can I do to ensure that my rent stays the same, or optimally, that it's lower in keeping with general deflationary pressures?
posted by anotherpanacea to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You mentioned the vacancy rate is high, so presumably there are currently a few open units in your building - can you find out the asking price for comparable apartments? If they are going for the same or less than you're paying now, you could approach the management company with this information and use that to your advantage.

Or, if they insist that lease renewals must come with an increase (and describe it as something they can't get around), and you're a good tenant, you may have the option of moving to a cheaper unit in your building. That would be sort of a pain though, and might put you in the same predicament next year.
posted by longwalks at 11:03 AM on January 31, 2009

Response by poster: Well, we really, really don't want to move. It's just not convenient. I'm willing to PRETEND to want to move, though, if that's a strategy that's likely to work.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:11 AM on January 31, 2009

Well, I just ate a rent increase, so I'm not sure this is 100%, but the year before last, they wanted me to renew my lease and raise the rent $50 a month. I went around, not really intending to move, and the place down the street made a REALLY good offer -- like $100 less a month and washer/dryer.

I walked into my leasing office. I asked if a $50 increase was the best they could do. They said yes. I gave them a letter informing them that I would be moving in three months. They said that, no, wait, maybe they didn't have to raise their rent after all.

But I really did intend to move, and it hasn't really worked since.
posted by Comrade_robot at 11:36 AM on January 31, 2009

If I was the property manager, I'd want to see your better offer before agreeing to a new lease.
posted by electroboy at 11:51 AM on January 31, 2009

I'd agree that the best move is to ask about other units in the building. I wouldn't rule out finding a better unit in your building. Take a gander.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:38 PM on January 31, 2009

If I was going to try to negotiate like this, I'd want to know:
1) what someone would pay per month for an apartment like yours if they moved in this year
2) what comparable offers there are from other apartments in the area

Something to keep in mind is that a tenant's moving out costs them money, as they have to turn the unit (hire someone to do the cleaning, repaint, clean or replace the carpet, inspect that everything is ready for the next tenant). So there's that cost, and of course there's no guarantee they'd find a new tenant that month, meaning the unit might sit empty for a while and not generate rent. All things being equal they'd probably prefer to keep an existing tenant locked in for another year; that desire combined with a perceived willingness to move on your part might work as leverage.

If you know you want to stay in the same area, you could see if they're open to a two year lease at the same rate, or you could see if they're willing to do something else to make you happy: clean the carpets, install new light fixtures, things that contribute to your pleasure while you're there but also stay with the apartment and make it more appealing to rent out in the future. Make any arrangements before you sign the lease, and get them in writing.
posted by shirobara at 8:39 PM on January 31, 2009

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