How to negotiate your rent (which will probably go up)

Q: My daughter’s apartment lease in Midtown Manhattan expires in May and she’s worried about a rent hike. When she signed the lease, sh...


Q: My daughter’s apartment lease in Midtown Manhattan expires in May and she’s worried about a rent hike. When she signed the lease, she got two months free rent. Now, comparable units in the building rent for 35% more than she pays. Could the landlord really raise his rent that much? Can she negotiate?

A: A landlord can increase the market rent for an apartment by any amount or not renew the lease, as long as the tenant receives appropriate notice depending on how long they have lived in the apartment. Given current market conditions, your daughter’s rent is likely to increase.

In January, rental inventory fell 60% citywide and median asking rent rose 34.5% in Manhattan and 13.5% in Brooklyn year-over-year, according to StreetEasy. The result is a frantic rental market with bidding wars and lines at the door for open days. Any tenant who signed a lease in the past two years when rents were falling and concessions were common should be prepared for a possible rent hike.


But brokers insist that negotiations are possible, even in a competitive market. “People forget they can negotiate,” said Erin Whitney, Salesperson at Bohemia Realty Group. “The first rule is to always do it.”

Here are some expert trading tips:

Do your homework. “Do your research on rentals in the building, on the block, and in the neighborhood to make sure your landlord’s proposed renewal price is fair and in line with today’s market,” said Lauren Riefflin, real estate trends expert at StreetEasy. “Use this data in conversations with your landlord.”

Start the conversation early. Call your landlord at least three months before the lease expires and ask if the rent will increase. This will give you time to negotiate and consider your options.

Play to your strengths. Vacant units cost landlords money – they lose rent while they clean, paint, repair and show the apartment. And they may also have to pay broker fees. A new tenant may be noisy or not pay on time. Highlight these risks and ask for a compromise. You might be able to save $100 per month on the raise. Or, find other ways to save. Ask for an 18 month or 24 month lease to lock in longer terms. If you pay a pet or amenity fee, the landlord may be able to waive it. Or maybe you could take the opportunity to get repairs, like a new stove to replace an old one. “There are many ways to frame a positive conversation with your landlord,” said Vicki V.Negronassociate broker of Corcoran.

Consider your own costs. Moving is not cheap. Calculate how much it will cost to move, factoring in a moving van, brokerage fees, and other associated costs. Then calculate the increase over the year and decide whether or not you will win if you stay or leave.

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Newsrust - US Top News: How to negotiate your rent (which will probably go up)
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