information is key
Whether you're a current tenant or looking for a new apartment, gathering information before negotiating with a landlord is key. Realtor, Trulia, Zumper, and the Los Angeles Times all make that point.
For current tenants, go to apartment listing websites (such as apartments.com) and look for rents in your neighborhood. If you see buildings with lower prices, approach the landlord with that fact and try to renegotiate for decreased rent or other money-saving concessions.
Before trying to strike a deal, however, it's best to go to the landlord around the time that your lease is expiring.
If you don't want to wait, Zumper suggests picking a slow time of the year.
"Winter is usually a quieter time for landlords," the website notes. "If you try to swing a deal during the summer moving rush, your request may fall on deaf ears."
With all that said, experts agree that it's difficult for current tenants to renegotiate -- you already live there, so why should a landlord lower your rent? But it's not impossible.
Zumper lays out a four-point strategy:
Negotiate in person because it's harder for a landlord to say no when sitting across from a person.
Go into the negotiation with documentation, such as lower rents in the neighborhood, your history of paying the rent on time, your credit score, and any other hard facts that help your case.
Have a game plan in terms of what you want to get, whether it's amenities or lower rent or both.
Set your requests high, then be willing to meet in the middle.
If you can't lower the rent, ask for concessions. For example, many landlords in the Los Angeles area are offering a month of free rent. You can ask for that.
Or you can request free parking or the return of a percentage of your security deposit or lower rent with a longer lease, which offers stability for the landlord.
In the end, current tenants shouldn't hesitate to seek better deals. It's a normal thing to do these days, and even the smallest of savings will add up over the long haul.
"Landlords should be prepared for negotiations, quite frankly, because there is so much data out there,” Joshua Clark, an economist at Zillow, told the L.A. Times. “There are a lot of ways to look at the housing market, and consumers are getting more and more savvy."
Read Housing Is A Human Right's article "Are You a Renter in California? Here are New Trends You'll Want to Know."