Right now NYC is at less than a 1% vacancy rate, which pretty much means that New Yorkers can either stay in their current apartment, or risk ending up paying $5k/month for a small room containing a toilet, fridge, and a few rats. I personally love my cozy little studio apartment, but you better believe that when my lease is up I’m haggling with my landlord to get the increase as low as possible. No matter where you live, you should always try these 4 tips for negotiating your lease renewal to save some money too.
I personally always ask to speak with my landlord in person, as it’s generally much more difficult to say no right to your face when you’re giving those sad “I’m broke and can’t afford this increase” eyes. If your landlord is not available for whatever reason, I would suggest a phone call over an email or letter. Besides just letting them know that with the economy, the increased rent is just no longer in your budget – you can use the following tips:
1. Build a case
It’s a good idea to do some research on the current asking price of similar units in your building as well as in your neighborhood. New Yorkers can do this by checking out Craiglist or Street-Easy.com. This will help build your case if the price increase is unreasonable. It also doesn’t hurt to brag a bit about yourself to your landlord. When my lease came due, I made sure to remind him that I always paid my rent ahead of time and was a very good tenant, but I would have to move if I could no longer afford the rent.
2. Add value
Have you done any improvements to the apartment? If you’ve done something like installed soundproof windows or updated the kitchen or bathroom in any way – the landlord may knock off a bit of rent since this will ultimately increase the value of the unit when it’s next on the market. When I personally re-tiled my bathroom floor (and it actually doesn’t look jacked up) – I made my super aware of this for brownie points.
3. Point out problems
If you have had any issue with your rental that you have reported – like laundry machines that are always down, or a delay in getting maintenance to fix something – be sure to use this as ammunition for why your rent should not go up. This is especially true if you had to personally pay for something as a result. Furthermore, if there is something that currently needs maintenance in your apartment, you can offer to do it yourself in exchange for a smaller rent increase.
4. Take what they offer and plan ahead
I’ve never had a landlord agree to not raise my rent at all, but I can often get it down. Sometimes it’s only $50/month, but that is still $600. If you really love your place, it’s worthwhile (especially in NYC) to sign a two-year lease agreement once you’ve negotiated it down to get and keep the best price.