10 Unexpected Benefits to Negotiate When You Sign a New Lease (Besides Rent)
Buying a home has consistently trended toward unaffordable in the last few years, but so has renting: The median rent across the U.S. in January 2020 sat at $1,585 and peaked at $2,053 just 2.5 years later. While rent prices have begun to level out and even drop in some areas, it's still a burden for many.
Inventory and demand also have somewhat stabilized in recent months, so some tenants are successfully negotiating for cheaper monthly rent. But if your landlord or property manager won't budge or wants to raise rent on your existing lease, try asking for these extra perks that can decrease non-rent costs and increase your quality of life.
(Note that you'll have more leverage if you're a top-tier tenant with a history of on-time payments and no damage on your record.)
If you pay a monthly pet fee in addition to your rent and your pet has a sparkling behavior record, ask if you can have this fee reduced or waived entirely. You could also request a refund for your pet deposit to get a little bit of extra cash in your pocket. And if your landlord doesn't allow pets or enforces breed restrictions, see if there's any room to budge.
Amenity and utility fees
Currently paying an extra fee for access to your apartment building's pool, gym, or other amenities? Ask if you can have this cost waived--same if it's a mandatory fee for all tenants and you don't actually utilize these perks. If you pay utilities directly to property management, try negotiating these as well.
If you have aesthetic upgrades or design ideas in mind that are prohibited by your lease terms (painting, for example), try asking for flexibility to make changes. You can also ask your landlord to swap out old locks or thermostats with smart versions.
New or additional appliances
Don't have a washer and dryer? Assuming there's space and a hookup, ask if your landlord will invest in them as part of the rent price. You can also try requesting a dishwasher or upgrades to an outdated refrigerator or range.
A better unit
Is there a larger unit or one with better views, features, or floorplan that's vacant? See if you can translate a rent increase into an upgraded space.
If your building has onsite storage units or any space that could be converted for storage, ask if you can use it to free up room in your rental.
If you pay for a parking spot or pass, try asking your property to comp the fee (or give you a second spot for free if your household has more than one car). If your building has permit-based guest parking, ask for additional passes at no extra cost.
Professional cleaning can be a luxury for renters, as can benefits like landscaping and window-washing. Ask if your landlord can cover these extras a few times during your lease term.
Some landlords may be willing to budge on the security deposit, either reducing it, waiving it, or returning it if you're a current tenant renewing your lease. Providing references from previous tenancy may help convince a landlord to take this risk.
A free month of rent
Your landlord may not budge on the monthly total for rent, but you could try to convince them to give you one for free by renewing your lease for an extended period or during a slower time for rental turnover (such as between school years).