It can be a difficult time to be an apartment renter. The renting lifestyle has become more popular over the past few years which has led to a sharp increase in the demand for apartment units. As demand has gone up, so too have the prices. Rental rates and security deposit costs are on the rise but that doesn’t mean that apartment renters have to accept what they’ve been offered. There’s always room for negotiation before signing a lease and there’s not really any risk in asking for a better deal. After all, the worst the landlord can do is say no.
While rents may be pretty well fixed by the market trend in the area, the security deposit is one thing that many apartment complexes are willing to be flexible about. The first thing a renter should do, when trying to negotiate for a lower deposit, is find out what a reasonable deposit should be. Some apartment complexes will ask for the first and last month’s rent up front. Some will only ask for the first month and a cleaning deposit. If you’re being asked for first and last, a cleaning deposit really shouldn’t be more than a hundred or so. If you’re only paying for one month’s rent up front, the landlord may ask to hold a larger deposit as a partial security in case you can’t pay rent one month. If this is the case, the deposit should be less than half of the total rent for the apartment.
Once you know what you’re being asked for and what is an appropriate amount to pay in terms of deposit, the next step in negotiating is to state your case and make a counter offer. Clearly explain to the leasing office why you think you should be paying less and then tell them what you’d like to pay. For instance, if you have great credit or a fantastic rental history, you could point this out to them, asking the leasing office to verify with your rental references how you’ve always paid on time. Make sure that your counter offer is reasonable, too. There’s nothing wrong with countering at the rate you actually wish to pay.
If the complex tells you that they won’t budge on the deposit, don’t necessarily take that as a no. In many cases, a no may simply mean that you’ve offered an amount that was too low or that you haven’t given the complex a good enough reason to change the cost of the deposit. Research the deposits on other complexes nearby, come up with better reasons for the complex to lower your deposit and try again. Remember to remain professional and to present your case logically. If they simply won’t budge and you just can’t pay, you may also be able to negotiate to break up the deposit over a period of a couple of months. Play around with the terms and ask for what you want. If the complex still refuses to give you what you’ve asked for, you’ll have some negotiating experience under your belt for next time.
Have you successfully negotiated a deposit? Or do you work at a leasing office and have some words of wisdom? We’d love to hear from you – here or on our Facebook page!