Negotiating for a lower rent — why timing is everything

WASHINGTON — We’re living in a generation of renters. It’s been at least 54 years since so many people had landlords, and those landlords might be receptive to letting people pay less.

“In a Zillow poll, 61 percent of landlords said they would accept a lower rent payment as long as there wasn’t a ton of competition for a property,” said Washington Post consumer columnist Elisabeth Leamy.

When bargaining to pay less, Leamy suggests offering to sign a longer lease, paying in advance or declining amenities such as parking or a storage room.

“If you’re handy, sometimes if you offer to make improvements to the property, that can be another thing you do in exchange for lower rent,” Leamy said.

Don’t wing it.

Leamy suggests practicing what to say and how to respond to what the landlord might say.

See what newbies are being offered.

“If the building you’re in offers specials to new tenants, often the fact that offer exists means they’ll give it to you,” Leamy said.

Do your homework.

Examine what prices people are paying nearby for comparable accommodations to help ensure you’re not making unreasonable requests.

Timing is everything.

Make your pitch 30 to 60 days before the lease is up “so the landlord knows you have plenty of time to find a new place if you can’t come to an agreement,” Leamy advised.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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