Most consumers don't think twice about negotiating on a house or a car, but they stop short when it comes to apartment rent. Rent is like any other commodity -- the market and perceived value determine its price. This means that the value is variable, so it is possible to negotiate a different, reasonable amount. While negotiating rent directly with the owner on an individually owned single property is easier, rent in apartment complexes can also be subject to negotiation.
Look at Vacancies
o If the complex you are looking at has many vacancies overall or several units of the same type vacant at the same time, management is more likely to make a deal with a prospective renter. Landlords have many fixed costs to cover, such as mortgages and other loans, taxes, insurance and utilities, whether the property is at full occupancy or not. If landlords are tight for cash because there are too many vacant properties, they may rake a lower rent just to get someone in an empty unit and bump up their revenue.
Know the Competition
o Landlords typically keep a very close eye on what neighboring properties charge, but may either overestimate the value of their property in regard to the competition or not be aware that a competitor has cut its rent fee. If a complex is charging more than comparable properties and has competition in close proximity, collect information from the surrounding complexes that charge a lower rent and take them in to the complex manager. You can use this information to try to negotiate a rent that is more in line with other properties in the area.
o Landlords want responsible, respectful tenants who pay their rent in full and on time so they can pay their bills. When the housing market is busy and people are not renting as much, these tenants are in short supply, and landlords try very hard to attract and retain these tenants. If you have stellar credit, a high income, very stable job history, are willing to sign a multi-year lease or a combination of these factors, you are a more desirable tenant. You can use this advantage to negotiate a lower rent. The trick is to be willing to walk away and move to a competing property if you do not get the terms you want. This can also work if you have been a good tenant and want a lower rent on a lease renewal.
o If you are not able to negotiate a lower rent, you may be able to get a concession that raises the value of the property instead. Some landlords cannot afford or are unable to take a lower rent, but can give a slightly larger unit, better location, additional storage or parking, or other amenities to you for free or a reduced price. You may also be able to ask for a reduced security deposit or application fee, or forgo any additional prepaid rent such as first or last month's rent.