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Can You Negotiate Rent in California?

When hunting for a great rental, do you feel uncomfortable negotiating the monthly rent amount or have no idea how to even bring the subject up in conversation with a landlord?

That's fairly common, as it can seem they have all the power; Afterall, it is their property. The truth is, however, they need high-quality trustworthy renters or they lose money. Every day a unit, apartment, condo, townhouse, guest house or single family house goes un-rented, that's cash the landlord is losing - speaking nothing to the cost on their hands of having to get the property in shape and back on the market every time there's a shift in occupancy. So it is in their best interest to find a great renter. As such, the power dynamic is often flipped in the renter's favor - meaning... of course you can negotiate!

Don’t know how to go about negotiating rent price for a Los Angeles rental or how to renegotiate your current rent? Don’t fret! As a Realtor® that specializes in rentals, I negotiate rental contracts for my clients all the time, and I'm going to share some of my secrets with you right now.

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Can You Negotiate Your Rent?

100%!! As mentioned, a landlord needs a tenant as much as a tenant needs an occupant, as such, rental prices are typically negotiable. You can, and often should, negotiate your rent before signing a new lease, as well as when it’s time to renew your current lease.

Why Should You Negotiate Your Rent?

If you're thinking, “Why should I even negotiate rent in the first place?," the answer is pretty obvious. You can potentially save a lot of money. Los Angeles is in the top 10 most expensive cities to live in the world, so you need to be wise with your money here. Even if you’re saving as little as $25-$100 a month, that can payout to a good-sized chunk of $300-$1,200 saved over the course of a standard 12-month lease term. Think about what you could do with that extra money! Heck, even shaving $12 off your rent every month would save you $144 a year - or one Netflix subscription!

Saving money on monthly rent every month not only leaves you more cash to spend how you’d wish, but can also improve your relationship with your landlord or property manager. When you negotiate in a calm and respectful manner you remind the landlord that you are a valued, perceptive, and caring tenant. It's counter-intuitive, but a good negotiation often opens up a stronger line of communication

Another hidden benefit of negotiating the terms of your lease is it often leads you to ask questions you might not have thought to ask, and in doing so uncovers options potentially available to you to work out a win-win situation

However, negotiating your rental agreement can go beyond cash savings. Let's dive deeper into what negotiating your rent could mean for you

What to Ask For When Negotiating - Beyond A Lower Rate

It is important to know that there are often benefits in a lease agreement up for negotiation beyond pure dollars; You can also negotiate for amenities and other ancillary perks too

This will come in handy when you’re negotiating with a large property like a house. So what else can you cover and/or include in your rent negotiation besides the price? Here are just a few options:

  • Additional/free parking spaces.
  • New appliances or upgrades to your rental.
  • Additional storage
  • Included utilities, landscaping or other "house work"

How to Negotiate Rent

If you decide to go it alone without a Realtor®, no matter how good you think your case is, it’s very important to know how to negotiate your rent. Not only so you can do it successfully, but also so you can feel confident and at ease during your negotiation.

There are many different ways to negotiate rent; just make sure you have a plan you feel comfortable with. Here are some of my favorite tips.

1. Do Your Research Ahead of Time

One of the benefits of working with a Realtor® is that I know what other buildings in the neighborhood are charging for rent. Not only can I back up the numbers with comparable rentals, but I can help you negotiate a reasonable offer. In essence, know what you're asking for and have something of merit to back up the why of what you're asking for

2. Come Prepared With Facts to Build Your Case

If you’re seeing better pricing in other buildings, have those layouts and prices printed out. If you’re the perfect tenant who always pays your rent on time, have your rent payment records on hand. Whatever you need to build your case, have it with you in case your landlord would like reminders or references. This minimizes arguments and gives you a better foundation upon which to have your conversation

3. Explain the Ways Your Landlord Will Benefit

If you can pinpoint exactly how a new situation will be beneficial to both of you, this lessens any possible tension and is more likely to be successful. Again, the power-dynamic is not all in the landlord's favor. Make a case that the negotiation will be mutually beneficial.

Yes, they could be collecting a lower monthly payment, but the benefits of locking in a lease for another 12 months during the slow season - for example - could be worth it.

Final Thoughts

When it comes down to negotiating your rent, there's really only one rule: Be kind.

Los Angeles is in a severe housing shortage and competition for a great place can be fierce. Be prepared, figure out what’s really important to you in a rental home and why, and just do your best!

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