When you think of apartment-building amenities, you’re probably thinking of the sort of flashy things listed in bold-faced text in the building’s marketing materials. POOL! ROOFTOP DECK! ON-CALL DOG-WALKERS!
But just because your new apartment is a bit more basic doesn’t mean you can’t get a certain level of VIP treatment. There may be other amenities available, things that may lack overt cache but are actually more useful on a day-to-day basis. And how do you get them? Just ask nicely.
In all buildings, particularly in big cities, space is at a premium, meaning parking is at a minimum. Very often, though, there are one or two spots available. There might be a seniority system, in which case you’ll just have to wait your turn. There might be an extra fee. But don’t be afraid to ask what’s available—that simple question could net you a spot to call your own.
Similar to parking, there may be semi-secret storage units available in your building’s basement or other out-of-the-way space. This can be a great place to store your air conditioner during the summer (or your space heater during the winter), and any other random things that you don’t need every day but would like to have close at hand.
Can’t live somewhere without your four-legged sidekick? Don’t panic if you’re told the apartment building you’re looking at doesn’t allow pets. There may be exceptions, if you ask nicely. It’s possible, especially if the building is a small one run by a person or a family rather than a large management company. Explain that your pet is well-behaved and you’re a good neighbor (now would be a good time to provide references for previous places you’ve lived). Keep in mind that even if your landlord gives the okay, you may be charged a slightly higher rent or an additional damage deposit.
If you’re renewing an existing lease and decide to get a pet, you have an even better bargaining chip: you’ve already established yourself as a responsible renter. The landlord knows you, trusts you, and most likely doesn’t want to lose you. Emphasize that this is something important to you and which may affect whether or not you’ll stay.
Incentives for referring a friend
Your buddy is apartment-hunting and there’s a unit in your building; you’re both excited about living near each other. But there might be another bonus in the offing, a monetary one. Some landlords offer incentives (say, $50 or $100) for referring a new tenant. Make sure your landlord knows the connection up front, so that you get the full credit. And, of course, if you do get some cash, it’s only fair to offer your pal a cut, or at least buy him or her a slice of pizza at your favorite shop down the block.
New appliances/fixtures in your apartment
That rusty refrigerator or broken sink in an otherwise awesome apartment doesn’t need to be a deal-breaker. Ask if the landlord would be willing to replace it. Stay within reason, of course—obvious safety hazards or eyesores are totally legitimate concerns; demanding a whole new gourmet kitchen probably won’t fly.
Getting first in line for another unit
You like your landlord and your neighborhood, but not your current living arrangement: your unit is too small, too big, or too much money. Ask your landlord about any openings in the building (or any others under the same ownership) and request to be first in line for apartments that better suit your needs. Your landlord will likely be glad to be able to keep a valued tenant, and you may win out by upgrading without the hassle of going through a new application process.
Lower rent if you sign a longer lease
A standard rental lease is one year long; often, when you renew, the landlord will give you the option to sign on for another year or switch to month-to-month, which costs more but gives you more flexibility if you’re thinking about moving. But what if you’re quite happy staying put and have no desire to live anywhere else for the foreseeable future? Ask your landlord about longer leases—not just one year but two or more. You might catch him or her by surprise, since such leases aren’t terribly common, but if the answer is yes, you should end up saving a nice chunk of change.
With all of these unexpected extras, remember that they may be unexpected to the landlord, too—not all landlords can or will offer any of these things. So don’t be too pushy. And do your research to know what’s reasonable to ask—check with other residents of the building or friends in similar circumstances. Make your request with informed confidence and hope for the best. Good luck!