How to negotiate the price of an apartment

Finding an apartment is stressful, especially when the monthly prices for the units you check out comes above your budget! Thankfully, advertised rents are not set in stone – but that doesn’t mean it will be easy to get the rent lowered. How can you get the price lowered on an apartment that you have your heart set on?

Research the rental market. If it is a landlord’s market and there are hardly any vacancies, you might have to be more competitive to find a place in your chosen location, but it is always worth your while to research extensively on classified rental ads to see what the going rate is for similar units nearby. Don’t forget to chat with locals who rent, if possible, asking people in the building or living on the street you are interested in about their monthly rent is a great way to get a sense of what is standard.

Figure out how long the apartment has been on the market. Check the date the apartment was posted on Kijiji, and do some online searches to see if you can find evidence that it has been on the market for longer than that. If it has been over a month, the landlord might be getting worried about having an empty apartment, and may be more willing than usual to negotiate.

Know the landlord. If you are a current tenant who may or may not renew, this is an ideal situation for you – provided you have been a good tenant who they would be eager to keep. If you are looking for an apartment with a new landlord, try to get a feel for their personality, and see if you can figure out if they have many vacancies in their units. If they have a fair number of vacancies, they may be more willing to negotiate.

Pick your time. A landlord is more likely to be open to negotiations near the end of the month if you are moving into a new apartment, as the likelihood is higher that the unit will sit empty for a month. If you are a current tenant looking for an adjustment, make sure to leave enough time that you could actually find a new apartment you will be happy with if negotiations don’t go as planned.
Practise negotiating. Remember that you deserve the break on rent you are asking for. Don’t hesitate or show weakness, and negotiate for smaller items leading up to your planned discussion.

Sell yourself. If you are a new tenant, bring prior landlord and character references. Point out your great credit score (these tactics are less likely to work if you haven’t been good about paying your bills on time in the past). If you are an existing tenant, point out the fact that you take great care of the unit, are quiet, a non-smoker, or whatever it is you think sets you apart and makes you a good choice.

Pick the right number. Say you want a break of $100 on your rent – it might be a good idea to ask for a break of $200, that way your landlord can meet you in the middle and neither of you feel ripped off. Be careful about asking for a price that is too low, as insulting the landlord will end negotiations before they even start. Be reasonable and in line with market rates.

Don’t obsess over a dollar amount. You might be able to get the unit professionally cleaned and painted in your choice of colours, a free storage space or parking spot, or something else to sweeten the deal. Think of these as wins and recognize a concession when one is granted.

Be willing to give. Would you sign a 2 year lease if the landlord meets your price? In a negotiation, you have to be prepared to give as well as take.

Be respectful. If the landlord is not willing to negotiate, drop it or move on to the next apartment.

Consider a broker. Many brokers are paid by the landlords for finding their tenant for them, not by the tenant. If you don’t think you will be able to negotiate a deal, enlisting a professional might save you money.

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