The 5-Step Guide to Negotiating with your Landlord

How to negotiate a good landlord-tenant agreement for your rental accommodations

Negotiating is truly an art, and while not everyone is great at it, there’s room for improvement for almost all of us!

Your negotiations with your landlord for rental accommodation will not always about money – even if the price is firm, sometimes it can be just as important to have security features added, for example, or to have repairs or upgrades.

Your success in negotiating will depend on a few factors, and the most important will be the condition of the rental market. Are there lots of apartments in the area to choose from – is it a tenant's market? Or are there several applicants for each apartment, making it a landlord's market?

To negotiate with a landlord for rental accommodation, follow our 5-step guide to success!

Step 1 Preparation: research rented accommodation in your neighbourhood

The first step to negotiating with your landlord is preparation.

Research and understand the rental market in your neighbourhood. Find out what your rented apartment, condo or house is really worth and compare the going rate of similar rental accommodation.

Not all apartments for rent in the same neighbourhood are created equal: compare like with like. Differences will be reflected in the rental price: surface area, a rooftop terrace, a garden, a gym inside the building, a renovated kitchen – all of this will affect the rental price, so keep this is mind during your research.

Next, be prepared with your character and professional references, and make sure your credit score is good – mention this when you speak to the landlord. Be prepared with a cheque or enough money for the deposit and first month's rent.

Start low if you want to leave yourself some wiggle room to arrive at your ideal price. Either way, be specific about your ask. Know what you want and where you're willing to compromise.

Step 2 Keeping your cards close to your chest

In negotiations, one of the keys to success is not giving away too much or too little information about yourself.

Sure, the landlord needs some information about you and your situation, but be wise about what you share. Don't say anything that costs you leverage: for example, if the landlord knows that your current lease is up soon, you give away the upper hand. Even if you love the rental accommodation, don’t be too demonstrative: if they know you want it badly, there's no incentive for them to negotiate.

The key is to be charming and honest without giving away too much about yourself or your situation.

If the landlord is not willing to budge on the price of the rental apartment, think about your next step: will you accept the rental price as is or will you look for something else?

Step 3 Timing is everything

Sometimes, negotiation is all about timing.

If the apartment, condo or house has been on the market a long time, you have better chances of being able to negotiate . If the apartment hasn't yet been rented close to the end of the month, and you're able to wait without risking losing it, the landlord may be more open to negotiations to avoid losing another month's rent.

Step 4 Know what they want

In negotiations, the idea is for both parties to feel good about the result. What you want when you negotiate is a win-win scenario for both.

So how do you make this happen? Know what your landlord wants by putting yourself in their shoes.

Landlords want tenants who are not financial liabilities.

They want to know that you are financially secure. If that's your case, mention how long you've been employed, and that you're financially stable.

2 - Landlords want tenants who pay their rent on time.

Be punctual in all your dealings with the landlord. Be on time for your meeting – it sets the tone and gives a good impression. Be willing to post-date cheques in advance if you're comfortable doing so, or to set up automatic monthly payments through the bank.

3 - Landlords want tenants who will take care of the apartment.

Reassure the landlord that you'll leave the place in as good a condition as you found it. If you want to repaint, ask first.

4 - Landlords want tenants who will not be disturbing them continually.

In your conversation, try to get the message across that you're independent and that unless there's a major problem, you don't expect to be in contact with them often. 

5 - Landlords want good tenants to stay for as long as possible.

If you can commit to staying a few years, then say so. You'll be in a better position to obtain a deal on your rent if you can provide some value to the landlord by staying longer.

Step 5 Agreeing is a win-win scenario

To get, sometimes you have to give. What can you offer in return for what you want? Are you willing and able to do small repairs? Are you willing to sign a 2-year lease ?

Whatever agreement you come to, keep your end of the bargain – and put it in writing!  

Even though you may have a verbal agreement, writing it in the lease avoid any possible uncertainty over interpretation later on.

As you negotiate, be upfront, honest and confident, and always remain polite, friendly and professional. A bad or aggressive attitude won't get you far. Try to break the ice before your start your negotiations.

Don't forget, this is the start of a new relationship between you and the landlord. Make sure it gets off to a good start!