(NEXSTAR) — Even though data shows that year-over-year rent increases are slowing, rent in most U.S. cities is still far from cheap.
As reported by Rent.com in March, median national rent in February 2023 was $1,937, which was the lowest price seen in a year. Rent in February 2022, for example, was 16.5% higher than just one year earlier.
“Monthly rent changes fell for the fifth time in the last six months, dropping -0.25% from January to February. The dip was the smallest decrease over that span, representing only a $5 shift in the price level,” Rent.com’s Jon Leckie writes.
So while this is more “good” news than “bad,” many renters could still be hit with a proposed rent increase when their lease is up for renewal. But did you know you can negotiate — or even dispute — a rent increase?
Real estate company Redfin shared a few tips for negotiating rent with your landlord.
Research the market
What are your neighbors paying?
“Getting to know the surrounding rental prices for apartments and homes with similar amenities can help you to negotiate your rent. Similarly, if you’re renewing your lease in the same apartment, check the current rent prices of other units in your building,” Redfin representative Allison Braun told Nexstar.
Negotiate during the off-season
Most renters are moving during the summer and spring — can you use that to your advantage?
“Negotiating your rent may work, but the landlord has less incentive to agree to a lower price during the busy time of year,” Braun continued. “In the off-season, typically fall and winter, renters are not moving quite as readily, and vacant units may not fill as fast. During this time, landlords are more likely to negotiate to avoid too many vacancies.”
Consider adjusting lease terms
While most housing leases are 12-month leases, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, that’s not necessarily always the case. The bureau reports that while 59.6% of leases between January and June 2022 were for 12 months, about 8.6% were for other lengths. (In case you’re wondering, 31.8% of other leases were month-to-month, wherein tenants have even less bargaining leverage, so disregard.)
But Redfin says there is potential wiggle room within the timeframe on a lease, in addition to other details.
“You could effectively prevent a rent increase by considering different lease terms, such as a longer lease,” Braun said. “Your landlord may also benefit from changing your move-out date to a better time of the year, one where they can fill the unit faster than your original lease term.”
BLS also reports that 24-month leases are the most common among atypical lease durations (29.9% of the aforementioned 8.6% of tenants). Thirteen-month leases were the second most common.
How do I do it?
Zumper, a rental resource and news outlet, recently published a sample letter for negotiating rent. In addition to some of the previously mentioned pointers, Zumper’s template structures a potential letter around emphasizing your value as a tenant (a history of timely payments, for instance) and personal pleas (sharing any financial difficulties you may be experiencing).
It’s also recommended that tenants offer solutions and display a willingness to compromise.
When negotiating lowering rent, Zumper recommends not overplaying your hand by sticking “within $50-$200 of the asking price.”