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    9 Tips For Negotiating Rent If You Don't Know How To Ask

    Channel your inner negotiator and get that rent reduction.

    Finding the perfect apartment can be really exciting, but it can also be a strain on your wallet. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be! With a little negotiation, you can potentially lease a unit that meets your needs (and some of your bank account's needs).

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    You might never have considered negotiating your rent, but there are some serious benefits to having a lower monthly payment. For starters, you can build your savings with the money you free up. And a successful negotiation can also mean more freedom to spend more on what you want.

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    So, here are some tips for negotiating your rent if you don't know where to start. FYI, some of these tidbits come straight from David Walker, the CEO and cofounder of Triplemint, an online real estate firm.

    1. Do your research to make sure you're getting a fair price for the unit you're leasing.

    screengrab of zillow.com showing properties for rent on a map of los angeles
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    Overpaying can break your budget, so comparing the prices of similar rentals can help you figure out whether or not the landlord's asking price seems reasonable. Think about your must-have features (one-bedroom vs. a studio, dishwasher vs. no dishwasher, on-site laundry vs. no laundry at all). Then, go on your favorite rental listing site and compare the prices of apartments in a specific area that meet your criteria.

    Keep in mind, though, that amenities and concessions can drive up the price of rent. For example, apartments that are closer to a major transportation hub might be (understandably) more expensive — you're basically paying a location premium to have easy transportation access. Units that offer amenities like in-unit laundry can also be a little more costly. And listings that include utilities (versus listings where the tenant foots the costs in addition to rent) can sometimes be overall more costly. Think about these features when comparing the value of apartments.

    2. Keep in mind that an independent landlord might negotiate differently than a property management company.

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    Some scenarios will allow you more flexibility when it comes to negotiating. If you want the best chance at successfully lowering your rent, you might find that an independent landlord can be more receptive. "A manager from a big company may be handcuffed by corporate policies they can't get around, so you will probably be less successful in that negotiation," Walker said. "A landlord who owns one or two buildings can be more flexible and can work to satisfy both your needs."

    That's not to say that you should just totally give up on pursuing a rental through a management company. Either way, you should keep in mind that negotiating means having an open conversation — it does not mean barking up a list of demands and getting a "yes" or "no" immediately. It's a give-and-take process, and regardless of the outcome, you should be proud of yourself for even making an attempt!

    3. Think about using your lease term to your advantage! If you plan on renting for a longer period of time, you can try asking for a discount.

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    Rentals often start with a year lease; afterwards, you might be given the choice to stay and pay month-to-month or sign on for another year. But in some scenarios, you might decide in advance to rent for more than a year. Maybe you don't want your lease to end in the summertime when you know the apartment hunt will be more competitive. Or maybe you're attending a college nearby and don't want to deal with the stress of hunting for a new place at an inopportune time of the year (like midterms or finals week).

    "If you know that you will rent for longer than 12 months, you can leverage that," Walker said. "You can say, 'I'll be here for 18 months, so could I receive a month and a half for free?'"

    Depending on the landlord, free months can be calculated into your lease term to lower your monthly net effective payment. So instead of paying the original price for one less month, you'll pay a lower price for each month.

    4. Instead of negotiating for a lower rent payment, try asking for other perks, like free parking or free storage space.

    Cars parked on a street
    Alon Ceng / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

    A lower payment is nice and all, but evaluating your situation could open your eyes to some other must-haves that'll help you live more comfortably at a lower cost to you. Maybe you need a car for work and you'd be willing to pay full price for rent in exchange for a free, guaranteed parking spot.

    Some other rental concessions you could potentially negotiate for include a free storage unit, waived pet fees, a reduced or waived security deposit, a paid-for broker's fee, free utilities, updated appliances, and more.

    5. If you can afford it, ask if you can pay for several months in advance in exchange for a monthly discount.

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    Put yourself in a landlord's shoes. Late rent payments can be very stressful and can sometimes put a wrench in their own financial plans (they've gotta pay their bills and put food on the table, too!). Hearing that a tenant is willing to pay a few months rent upfront can be music to their ears; they won't have to worry about chasing down the third month's rent if it's already paid! This could open up the conversation for asking for a monthly discount — even a small one.

    Saving up some money over time can make paying for a few months upfront feel like less of a daunting expense. If you're in a comfortable financial position and thinking about moving in the next six months, now's a good time to start putting some money aside.

    6. Suggest the possibility of referral credit for spreading the word about vacant units in the building.

    Small apartment with couch, table, and countertop
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    Of course, the landlord would be thrilled to get more units rented — wouldn't you? Luckily, word of mouth can be a pretty powerful marketing tactic. It's kind of like signing up for a subscription service and getting money off your next shipment for getting your friends to sign up too! Ask if you would be able to receive "credit" in the form of a rent discount in exchange for referring a friend.

    Of course, you'll want to actually live in the space and make sure you love it before you refer friends and family to the units as well. But it can be nice to know that the offer is on the table.

    7. Consider getting a professional to negotiate on your behalf.

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    If you're uncomfortable with negotiating or still don't know what your personal circumstances will allow you to leverage, you can reach out for help. "If you feel like having a professional negotiate on your behalf, this is the market where that would be helpful," Walker said.

    Hit up your college acquaintance or family friend who negotiates like a boss — see if they'd be willing to put together a quick spiel or some language you can use to sound polite, professional, and clear when negotiating. Or hire a negotiation consultant who can work with you. Ask your network to refer you to a specialist they know or have worked with. While hiring a specialist might cost you some money upfront, it could be very worth it in the long run if they're able to talk your rent down.

    8. And while "success stories" can sound inspirational, don't let them overly influence your decision making.

    Bedroom
    Katarzynabialasiewicz / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

    "Everyone has that one friend who got that apartment for 25% under market value," Walker said. "But then you end up finding out that they pay so little because they got roommates to split the rent and their situation is just different from what you're looking for."

    Your needs may not always be the same as everyone else's. Maybe you don't want a roommate. Or maybe you have three cats and need a space where they can roam freely. Or perhaps the affordable spots are closer to the suburbs and would make your commute into the city a little longer. Don't be too quick to follow someone else's lead if you don't know all the details of their circumstance.

    9. Keep in mind that renting an apartment is part of the landlord's business. Going in with the intention of low-balling every landlord you meet won't make you successful; it'll just make you feel discouraged.

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    While it would be straight-up awesome, you likely won't be able to slash the rent on an apartment in half. "It’s important to remember that this is the landlord’s business," Walker said. "So if you go into it with the mentality that you're going to rip someone off and get a good deal, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Of course everyone wants to get a place under market value, but the reality is that you’re looking for the place that’s under the market value for your needs."

    The process isn't about throwing a tantrum until the landlord meets your demands; it's about finding a middle ground that works for both of you.

    Have you ever negotiated for lower rent? Share how you did it in the comments below!

    If this sounds like music to your ears (and bank account), check out more of our personal finance posts.

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