Danetha DoeBy Danetha Doe

Can you really negotiate rent?

Yes you can!

If you haven’t tried negotiating your rent before, you might feel nervous about the thought of approaching your landlord or rental company. It’s a step outside most peoples’ comfort zones, but it could help you cover your expenses if you’re struggling to pay bills.

Results may vary from person to person, depending on different factors including location and your particular home. At the end of the day, your landlord is operating a business and needs to find a balance between fulfilling customers’ needs and making money. Here’s how to go about negotiating your rent the right way.

1. Reach out proactively

Proactively reach out to your landlord or rental company to explain the situation. This can be via email or letter. If you do call them on the phone, be sure to follow up with an email to recap the discussion. Proactively communicating with your landlord is the only way to determine your options. The more notice you can give them before your next rent is due, the more they will be able to review their own personal financial situation and create solutions.

2. Be polite, not hostile

Don’t resort to hostility. If you’re feeling anxious about your finances, that’s a stressful situation. This kind of stress can cause anyone to become defensive and verbally combative. However, this approach will probably not be productive. Before writing an email or picking up the phone to talk with your landlord, take a few deep breaths to get grounded. The more calm you can be while engaging with your landlord, the better the situation will be for you. You may also want to roleplay the conversation beforehand with someone else so you can get feedback on how you come across.

3. Remember your landlord is human, too

Just like you, your landlord has expenses to pay, especially if they are an individual as opposed to a corporation. In times of financial downturn, life can be stressful for landlords, too. As you share your situation, make space for the stress and anxiety they may also be experiencing.

4. Provide documentation

Provide documentation of your specific economic hardship. If you have lost your job, be prepared to show that documentation to your landlord. This could be an email from your manager or information from the unemployment office.

5. Be open to meeting halfway

Be open to coming to a middle ground. It may not be feasible for the landlord to cancel or delay your entire month’s rent, but they may be able to reduce the monthly rent until you get back on your feet and add the delayed portion payments to later months.

6. Offer your skills

Offer to barter. If you are handy and great at fixing things around a house, offer to help with the property in exchange for a reduction or postponement in rent. Or find something else of value that you can offer.

Hopefully, you and your landlord will be able to create a solution together. If you’re unsure about how to negotiate your rent or need assistance figuring out your budget, Patelco wants to help. Visit patelco.org/FinancialJourney to set up up a confidential one-on-one call with one of our Certified Financial Specialists.

About the Author
Danetha Doe is the creator of Money & Mimosas, a site dedicated to helping you achieve financial freedom without having to live too frugally. She’s also the star of the Webby Award-winning TV series Going for Broke, produced by Ashton Kutcher, and has been recognized as a personal finance expert by the Wall Street Journal and Fast Company. Her work has been featured in Elle, The Chicago Tribune, Cosmopolitan, and NBC.