Due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans have been struggling to pay their rent and are facing eviction. Given these rough housing market conditions, you may be able to reduce your rent if you’re planning to renew your apartment’s lease or find apartments renting for cheaper than usual. Here are some ways to get better rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Review your budget
To start, determine your housing budget. You should know exactly how much income you expect to receive in the coming months and how much you will need to spend on basics like rent and food. Based on your budget, you can determine how much of a rent reduction you need (or at least think you can achieve). Alternatively, if your budget has significantly decreased, it may be best to move to another apartment.
If you plan on renewing your lease, talk to your landlord
You may be able to renew your lease and get your rent reduced simply by talking to your landlord. If your lease is coming up for renewal, it’s best to start negotiating your lease approximately 30 to 45 days before it ends. You should also:
- Research similar apartments in your area. To determine a price to negotiate toward, search online for apartment listings in your building and neighborhood. Compare prices for similar rentals in your area to determine the current market value of surrounding apartments. If you see several listings priced for approximately $200 less than your current monthly rent, then negotiate with your landlord for a lowered price in that range.
- Be honest with your landlord and negotiate well: Be open with your landlord and state that you’re now making less money. Ask if you can set up a meeting, at which you should negotiate a rent reduction slightly higher than you expect to receive. If you want your rent lowered by $200, ask for $250. Sometimes, a landlord will feel inclined to meet your offer somewhere in the middle.
If you need to move out, do some research
Perhaps you can’t get your rent reduced to meet your budget. In that case, you’ll have to search for a new apartment. Take the following steps to do so:
- Apartment hunt online: Find apartments in your area that fit in your budget or at least come closer to it. When you find listings that interest you, research the prices of apartments in nearby areas.
- Get to know your possible new landlord: Some small mom-and-pop landlords who rent out one or two buildings may be more open to negotiating. Sometimes, a large management company might not be as open to negotiating rent prices, but if you are still interested in an apartment owned by one, you can still try to negotiate.
- If possible, pick the best timing: Landlords may be more open to negotiating rent prices in the winter. However, during the summer rush, they may not be as open since more tenants are available.
- Negotiate in person: For some people, it’s harder to say no to someone in person than over the phone or through email.
- Bring your documents: Prepare your recent pay stubs, previous tax returns, references from former landlords, your credit history, and perhaps prices for other units in your building or neighborhood.
- Negotiate the rent’s price: Make an offer to a prospective landlord based on your research and budget. Prioritize an aforementioned key piece of advice: One of the basic rules of good negotiation is to aim for a slightly larger rent reduction than your actual desired amount.
Have you tried any of these methods when negotiating rent prices during the COVID-19 pandemic? Sound off in the comments!