Negotiating a Lease Agreement? 4 Things That Are on the Table

Many landlords typically put their tenant prospects through the ringer in attempts to make sure they’re not letting just any delinquent move into their investment property. After the interview process takes place, calls to previous landlords or other references are made, and legal documents are skimmed through and signed, you might think that you’ve got to take the deal as is, or walk.

While in many cases there might not be any room for negotiating, many other times potential renters have a lot more bargaining power than they might think.

Here are a few components of the lease agreement that might give you more wiggle room than you may realize.

The Rent Itself

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Sure, this one’s a biggie. And for the most part, it’s probably the most challenging term on the contract to negotiate successfully. But the landlord wants to fill that space just as badly as you want it. After all, it costs the landlord a lot of money every day that the unit is vacant.

Many times landlords beef up the listing price slightly in anticipation of being wheeled-and-dealed with, just like sellers of properties. If you’ve got a polished history, and have no record of being late paying your rent or disturbing the neighbors or the property, you might have a solid chance of shaving a few bucks off the listed rental price – within reason.

Just make sure that you don’t low-ball the landlord, and be conscious of the position that the landlord is in. He or she has to turn a profit on the place at the end of the day.

Security Deposit

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If the security deposit that the landlord requests seems a bit outrageous, suggest a more reasonable figure that you can both live with, and one that’s fair. Consider the security deposit limits that are set in your specific jurisdiction, or what other landlords of similar units are asking for.

If you can show proof that other landlords are charging much less, or that you have a good track record of being a responsible tenant that has never damaged anything on previous rental units, you may be able to boost your negotiating power.


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Many landlords simply don’t like the idea of having animals living on their properties, for obvious reasons. Many times pet policies are negotiable, especially if your pet is particularly quiet and small, and doesn’t show any signs of aggressive behavior.

If you can provide references to previous landlords who have had you and your pet as tenants, and they back up your claims that your pet was never a bother, your soon-to-be landlord might be willing to reconsider the no-pet clause.

Parking Spot

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If you’ve got a vehicle, but the unit doesn’t come with a parking spot, this could be a bit of an issue, especially if parking spots are slim picking in the building or surrounding area. However, if your landlord has a parking spot or two which he or she was looking to rent separately to make more of a profit, consider asking to have the parking spot thrown in to the mix.

You could negotiate these terms by offering to do certain tasks that you otherwise wouldn’t have to, such as cutting grass or shoveling snow. If these tasks are taken care of by a property management team, ask the landlord if he or she is willing to combine the unit and parking spot rental into one price that will shave a bit off of each cost. That way, you get a parking spot at a deal, and your landlord doesn’t have to go looking around for a separate renter for the spot.

These items can be successfully negotiated on your lease agreement; just make sure to be respectful and understanding of the landlord’s position. Don’t be greedy, and know where to draw the line in what you ask for.

Some things are just not appropriate for discussion, especially if they are things that the local, state or federal laws govern. Use your good judgement and common sense when negotiating items on your lease agreement. Better yet, get a real estate agent to do the negotiating for you to boost the odds of wining at the bargaining table.