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Negotiating Your Rental Agreement: Tips for Saving Money

When searching for a new home, you’ve probably come across some great places just slightly out of your budget. If this is the case, and you really want the place, you could try negotiating your rental agreement to get precisely what you want.

Many landlords will be open to adjusting rent in exchange for other aspects, like a longer contract, but how exactly do you go about negotiating a rental agreement to save yourself some money and get the home of your dreams?

This article is going to look at ways to successfully negotiate with a landlord to get what you want. We’ll explore what a rental agreement actually is and help you to understand why it is in your best interests to negotiate your agreement. Take a look below to learn more now.

What is a Rental Agreement?

To begin with, let’s find out what exactly a rental agreement is.

Rental agreements, sometimes called tenancy agreements, lease agreements, and residential lease agreements, are a type of contract between a landlord and a tenant or renter. The contract will include information including rental price and the method of payment as well as other stipulations, such as length of tenancy and rules for what the tenant may and may not do while living there.

There are a few different kinds of tenancy agreements that can be entered into in the US. These include:

Fixed-term tenancy

This refers to a tenancy that ends on a specific date which will be written into the contract. Typically, these lease agreements are for at least a year, but you may be able to negotiate a lower rent by agreeing to stay for longer. 

In a fixed-term contract, all terms of the agreement are locked until the tenancy ends. This means the landlord cannot raise the rent, evict tenants for no reason, or change any other terms until the end date. However, it also means a tenant cannot leave or break terms before the end date either.

These are relatively secure contracts but can cause issues if there are disputes between landlords and tenants.

Period tenancy

This kind of lease renews automatically at the end of each ‘period.’ It has no end date set and can renew monthly, weekly, quarterly, yearly, or any other period that the landlord sees fit. Month-to-month, however, is the most common of this kind of contract.

While it is not common, these lease agreements may involve a contract. Generally, if someone wants to leave a periodic tenancy, they will give at least a month’s notice. 

Note: notice periods for tenancy agreements differ per state, so check out your local laws before giving notice.

Tenancy at sufferance

This is the kind of tenancy that happens when a tenant has stayed past the end date of their lease agreement. Generally, a landlord who is happy with their tenant will switch to a month-to-month contract with them.

Tenancy at will

This is an informal contract that means a tenant moves in with the permission of the landlord, but there is no set period of how long they will stay or when they have to leave by. This is the equivalent of letting your friend stay on your couch.

A note on rental agreements

It is important to acknowledge that these different types are a general overview of rental agreements. Rules and regulations for tenants can differ by state, so it is always best to check out the local government website for more information.

How to Negotiate Your Rental Agreement

So, how do you go about negotiating your rental agreement?

First, you need to know if your landlord will even discuss changing the rental price. Some landlords won’t, and you don’t have much choice other than to pay what they ask or look elsewhere. In our experience, independent landlords are much more likely to negotiate than commercial landlords.

If they are open to it, we recommend starting out by highlighting all your strengths as a tenant. You may want to show how financially stable you are by providing details like bank statements or offering to pay a few months of rent in advance. You could also offer to stay for a longer period to secure their income for more time.

If you’re negotiating after having been in the property for a while and the landlord is trying to increase rent, it is best to show how responsible you have been as a tenant. If you’ve always been on time with rent and not caused disruption or damage, your landlord needs to know this. They may think twice about increasing rent and risking getting a new tenant in your place.

Another compromise you could make when moving into a new place is offering to end the lease in the summer. Many landlords have their best success in the summer as it’s a popular time to move. Students are moving to new cities and looking for apartments, graduates are moving for their first jobs, and there is an increase in demand. By ending your lease in the summer, you’re giving the landlord a greater chance of securing a new tenant relatively quickly after you leave.

You need to be open to compromise when it comes to negotiations. Sometimes, what you’re asking for simply isn’t feasible for the landlord, so you may have to meet them halfway. Remember that it is still a win if you get almost what you want.

Once you have negotiated, you should ensure all of the details discussed are followed up in writing, and everything is kept track of so that you always have proof of your agreement.

Why is it a Good Idea to Negotiate Your Rent?

Negotiating your rent means paying a price you can actually afford. Rent prices are soaring across the US, and the rest of the world for that matter, so being able to find a place that suits you for a reasonable rental price is pretty difficult. Negotiating means you’re more likely to be comfortable and have some money to set aside for emergencies or to save for a goal like buying a house.

Note that it is important to have a backup plan. Some landlords simply will not negotiate and will look elsewhere, so if they don’t accept your requests, then you need to ensure you’re ready to move somewhere else.

Final Thoughts

A rental agreement is a contract between a landlord and a renter. Negotiating the terms can help you to get a lower rent, a shorter contract, or more security in general. It is in your best interests, but you should always be open to compromise when negotiating. By following these tips, you can save money and time when navigating rental agreements. 

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