There’s no denying it: part of how your landlord makes money is through an annual renewal increase. While these increases keep your rent payment on par with your community, they can also be unexpected and unwelcome. If you’re surprised by a higher increase than you expected or simply would like to try to keep your current payment, these tips are for you.
Understand the renewal increase policy
Before you do anything, check your Rental Agreement for your landlord’s official policy on renewal or annual rent increases. This should be something you ask about before you move in. It should also be listed pretty clearly in your agreement. If no policy is listed, this puts you back to square one. Technically , they can change rent prices on you during renewals if it doesn’t state otherwise in the contract you both signed.
If the specific increase amount or percentage is listed in the contract, you might not have much of a case to negotiate it down – since you already agreed to it. If the agreement indicates an increase, but is vague on how much, you’re likely in a great position to negotiate.
Additionally, if you live in a rent-stabilized apartment, do some research on how much they can increase rent incrementally.
In either case, it’s important to know what you’re walking in to, and what you agreed to early on!
Do your research on rent rates
Before talking to your landlord about your renewal increase, do some research into the market value of your apartment. Check local apartment sites to see what similar units (in square footage and room size) are currently renting for.
Once, my landlord asked to increase my rent by $40 a month and I was frustrated! But, I then did some research and found that most apartments my size were renting for twice what I paid… and $40 didn’t seem so bad.
The opposite might also happen! If you see that similar apartments are renting for less than what you’re paying, bring this information to negotiation. Your landlord will likely prefer to keep a paying tenant at your current rate than move you out and move in a lower-paying tenant.
Schedule a negotiation conversation
If possible, schedule time with your landlord for the conversation, instead of popping in on them or calling them at random. This gives you both time to prepare and ensure you have enough time to speak.
When you ask for time with them, be specific. Let them know that you’d like to discuss the renewal increase notification you received if they could spend 20 minutes with you. You don’t generally need too much of their time, and they will be more likely to say yes if you don’t ask to spend 2 hours detailing the renewal with them.
You can absolutely do this over phone or email, but if you can be calm and collected in person, that’s your best bet.
If you choose to spring your questions on your landlord, they might not be prepared to answer them or to work with you. Giving them some information about the subject gives them time to research as well.
Negotiate the rent increase down
Now for the fun part! Negotiation! Come into the conversation asking to eliminate the renewal increase altogether. Starting this way provides some wiggle room for the both of you to reach a number that works for everyone. Try something like “I really enjoy living here and do my best to be a strong tenant in this building. I wasn’t expecting the renewal increase to be so high. Would you consider working with me to something more manageable?”
Citing things like your good behavior likely won’t help – that’s a “given”! Instead, speak to market research and your plans to stay in the apartment for the longer-term.
Additionally, don’t make it about you or what you can afford. Remember, your landlord has bills to pay too! Instead, focus on your market research.
Barter for freebies and upgrades
It’s not likely that they’ll completely cut out a renewal increase. Instead, you’re hoping to have less of an increase than they originally offered.
So, if you’re going to be paying more each month, ask for your landlord to make updates or upgrades to your unit. New flooring, paint, or fixtures can go a long way. Or, ask for freebies like free parking or storage space.