Is Black Friday Coming for Renters?

Good news, renters! Landlords are getting so desperate they're offering two month's free rent, waiving fees and giving away free parking and other incentives to get potential renters locked into a lease. And according to a recent survey, 70 percent of landlords are willing to lower rent for struggling tenants. Looks like now's the time for renters to cash in on early black Friday deals. So whether you're signing a new lease or looking to negotiate a lower rent with your current landlord, here are some tips to keep in mind.
  • Do Your Homework
    Make sure you know what other rentals are going for in the building and the neighborhood. You'll have a much better bargaining chip if, for example, you know that rents in the area have dropped or that if there are a lot of empty units in the building.
  • Be Direct
    Business Week's Prashant Gopal suggests telling the landlord or property manager exactly what you want. A month of free rent? Lower annual rent in exchange for signing a two-year lease? Gym membership thrown in? How about moving upstairs to a larger apartment or an apartment with a balcony for the same rent?
  • Offer Something they Want
    Attorney Janet Portman told American Public Media's "Marketplace" that you can't just come in demanding, you must let the landlord know what they're getting in return. Portman says: "What you do say is, I'm going to give you something in return that's going to make it worthwhile, namely I am a trouble-free tenant who's going to pay the rent on time, not damage the property, not hassle the neighbors, stay there for a long time or at least the length of your lease."
  • Offer to Pay the Rent in Cash
    Along those lines, blogger Adam Baker's helpful Man vs. Debt suggests offering to pay in cash in exchange for a discount when negotiating.
  • Knock their Socks Off
    When going to look at an apartment, show up with a packet of information about yourself for the potential new landlord. Include a "rental resume," credit report, letters of recommendation and other information commonly needed by landlords. Look organized, show up on time and wow them up front. When they see how organized you are, they'll know you'll be a great tenant and be more apt to negotiate.
  • Be Reasonable
    If you ask for too much, or if you are too confrontational, your landlord might not be inclined to strike a deal. But most people are willing to shave off 10 to 20 percent for the right tenant.

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