The Ins and Outs of Lease Negotiation for Tenants

Tips for renters to negotiate lease terms with landlords or property managers before signing a rental agreement.

Remember these two words when looking for you next rental property: lease negotiation. Not all landlords or property managers are willing to negotiate lease terms. Some, however, will listen to lease negotiation requests. Better yet, some will grant those requests. Below are three examples of where you may be able to negotiate lease terms with a landlord or property manager.

Negotiating Financial Terms of a Rental Lease

Tenants may find a rental property that they can afford based on the monthly rent. Once they review the financial terms of the lease, however, they often find coming up with enough money upfront to take possession of the property is too much of a financial hardship. For example, you may have enough money saved to pay first month’s rent and a deposit, but the landlord or property manager is asking for last month’s rent as well.

In this case, it doesn’t hurt to see if you can negotiate the financial terms of the rental lease. If, after conducting a tenant screening process, the property manager finds you have excellent credit, a good tenant history and make enough money to pay the rent easily, then it is very possible that you can work something out. One solution may be to ask to make additional payments for the first three or four months instead of paying the last month’s rent in advance.

Negotiating Lease Concessions

A second example of how tenants may negotiate lease terms with a landlord comes in the form of concessions. Have you ever seen a rental property advertised with one month of free rent? Maybe you have seen rental apartment owners offering an additional parking space for free as an incentive to fill vacancies.

If the rental market conditions favor tenants instead of rental property owners, then landlords or property management companies may be more willing to negotiate concessions. You may be able to ask for and receive a free month of rent or an extra parking space if these are incentives competing properties are offering. Be prepared, however, to give something else up in return as negotiating is a give and take process.

Negotiating the Length of Your Lease

Have you ever found the perfect rental property that matches your rental budget as well as your wants and needs only to discover it requires signing a lease of 12 months when you need shorter lease terms? Don’t let that stop you from inquiring about renting that home. In many cases, you can negotiate the length of your lease.

If your life circumstances (e.g. upcoming job transfer, marriage, etc.) dictate that you must move in 8 months, ask the property manager or landlord if you can sign a rental agreement for eight months or possibly six months followed by a month-to-month lease. It never hurts to ask. Keep in mind that a shorter lease term or a month-to-month lease will usually require a higher monthly rent payment.

Remember, negotiating is give and take. Also, as we tell our tenants, Red Door Company represents the landlord. Because of that, we don’t always get to say “yes” to negotiations. It is up to the individual landlord to decide whether or not to participate in lease negotiation with potential tenants. But as mentioned above, it does no harm to ask.

Have any other questions about renting a home in North Carolina? Make sure to read our other Renter’s Guide articles or contact us personally, and we’ll be glad to help you.