Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Recessionista Swindle of the Day

How To Lower Your Rent
Three ways to negotiate a bargain.
By Cristina Velocci
- from Time Out New York

Strategy: Use your pay cut to your advantage.“People’s situations have changed. The rental market has changed, and landlords and management companies know it has,” says Beau Nova, a senior associate broker at Corcoran, who recommends honesty as the best policy. “If you’re making less money but you’re still working and paying your rent on time, the landlord may actually [lower your rent] because they’d rather not have you leave or default.” Dan Rosenthal was laid off last November, and when he couldn’t find someone to sublet his Garment District studio, he decided to come clean. The minute he fessed up, his landlord offered to knock $200 off per month. “I knew I was coming from a position of power because she needs somebody to pay the rent,” he says. “She didn’t want to lose me as a tenant.” However, depending on the type of building you live in, this approach could backfire. “Keep in mind,” Nova cautions, “depending on how much less you make, you may not even qualify for that apartment anymore.”

Strategy: Extend your lease­—early.While you might not have as much negotiating power if you’re in the middle of a lease, you have more of an edge as you get closer to its end. “A lease is a binding contract, and the landlord has no reason to renegotiate,” says an Upper West Side landlord with 39 years’ experience and more than 250 tenants (who’s asked to remain anonymous lest all his own tenants start haggling). But make the call about two months before the lease ends and you could schmooze your way into a lower rate in exchange for a year or two’s extension. “Most landlords are amenable in this market to longer leases, because it lets them keep tenants they have a relationship with,” he says. Just be sure not to wait until the last minute. Give enough notice to show “that you’re looking to do this from a point of mutual respect” and not trying to pull a fast one.

Strategy: Play the economy card and just ask—many landlords now expect it.When it was time for Jen Winter, 24, to renew the lease on her “teeny tiny little studio” on the Upper West Side, she received a letter from her management company that opened the door to negotiation. “My rent didn’t increase but it didn’t decrease, which I was hoping it would, and it said something along the lines of, ‘If this doesn’t meet your needs, feel free to contact the leasing agent to discuss it,’?” she says. “I think they were prepared for everyone that they’re dealing with to try and negotiate.” Winter made the call, arguing that since rental rates have decreased, she could easily find a similar apartment for less—and had $100 per month knocked off with no push back. Although she’s happy to have received a discount at all, she would’ve liked a steeper one. “I wish I did more market research and made more comparisons,” she says. For those of you contemplating this strategy—even if it’s not so helpfully offered by your own management company—try sites like PadMapper and MyApartmentMap to see what similar apartments in your neighborhood are renting for.

No comments:

Post a Comment