How to Negotiate When Renting an Apartment

Renting an Apartment is Like Interviewing for a Job

When you are looking at apartments, it is almost like a job interview because the owner or agent is looking to pick the best tenant for this rental unit. The agent wants someone who will help keep up the value of the apartment. Here are some tips to help you get to the top of the line.

Look the part

You need to dress the part of a responsible person who will take good care of the apartment. You don’t need to wear a suit, but you should look neat and wear nice casual attire. As they say, you don’t have a second chance to make a first impression.

Act the part

Just like an interview, a firm (but not too firm) handshake is in order when you introduce yourself. Be sure to look the agent/owner in the eye and smile. I like to make some nice comment, like “what a view!” or “what a nice garden!” or something else positive. The agent will give you his/her card. I like to give my business card. It is a handy way to give my contact information and it shows again that I am a responsible person that can be entrusted with an apartment.

Be observant and ask questions

It is a lot better to see the apartment’s problems or flaws before you move in. If you see a water spot or suspect there may be flooding, ask questions about it. If the apartment is near the road, see if you can hear traffic. You should look at the unit with the same diligence you would use if you were considering buying the unit. If you see something, point it out and ask whether it will be fixed before you move in. It is a lot easier to get something fixed before you move in than after!

Visualize yourself in this apartment

I like to visualize myself living in the apartment. This helps because sometimes I can either be too critical or overlook major flaws in the apartment. If I really like a unit, there can be a halo effect so that I don’t see any flaws, until it may be too late. Drive through the neighborhood and see if there are people on the street. Do they wave to you? I find it comforting to know my neighbors are friendly. How far away is the grocery store? How close is the nearest restaurant? You are not just renting an apartment, but you are really renting a neighborhood. Trust your instincts. If there is a problem, try to resolve it or walk away.

If you don’t like something, speak up

Is there something about the apartment you don’t like? Is it perfect except for just one thing? Then speak up. For example, I looked at a rental condo that I really liked. It was spacious and close to the beach. However, it had an ugly old shag carpet that was burnt orange and even covered the steps to the second floor. When I was visualizing myself in this apartment, I just could not get past this shag carpet from the 70’s. Finally I thought, “what do I have to lose?” I am not going to take the condo in its present condition. I asked the realtor if it would be possible to replace the rug. Apparently others had complained as well and the realtor said “yes,” after consulting with the owners. I rented the condo with a nice new tan carpet that matched my furniture and was very happy. I know I would have been miserable if I had to deal with the orange run on a daily basis!

Follow these tips and you will be negotiating like a pro