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How to Negotiate a Rent Decrease


In this economic environment, don't hesitate to ask your landlord for a fair deal.

Finding the perfect apartment in Manhattan is akin to finding a needle in a haystack. You might search relentlessly for months and come away with a tiny one-bedroom converted walk-up, 15 blocks from the closest subway line. But there are times when you stumble upon that fictitious needle, as I did 18 months ago.

After wandering into no fewer than 30 apartments, I had finally found "the one." I tried my best to negotiate on the rent. However, with the promotion offered, I was already getting an effective one month of free rent, so the landlord wouldn't budge. I was desperate, and signed on the dotted line.

Fast-forward 18 months; I clicked open my email last week to find a note from my landlord. The last time I had heard from him was when I signed my lease. He reminded me that my lease was coming up in six weeks and said, "You've been a great tenant and we would love to have you re-sign. Please let us know if you'd like to discuss the possibility, we'd be open to reasonable adjustments to the lease if you do want to stay."

Hallelujah. Since my landlord opened up the negotiations, I decided it was time for me to get smart and get in touch with a few apartment experts.

I contacted Ron Leshnower, a writer for who specializes in apartment living/rental related topics. He pointed out that good tenants are hard to come by and highlighting credentials -- i.e. credit/rental history, employment, income, as well as lack of criminal history -- can really make you stand out.

Leshnower reminded me that I now had the advantage: "Let the landlord think that you're happy to renew but you're also willing to move when your lease expires, unless you get a good deal," he said.

Looking for a new tenant, especially in this dismal real estate climate, is a hassle most landlords would like to avoid, especially those living in a condo/co-op where tenants might need to stand before the board and plead their case.
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