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Always Negotiate When Renting an Apartment in Boston

Posted By: Chris Angles |  Apr 1
Category: Renters

Did you know that negotiating is an option when renting an apartment in Boston? If you are viewing vacant apartments, you can score a great deal right now. This situation may not last long but right now is the best time to grab an apartment in over thirty years. When most people hear the word negotiate, they certainly don’t think about negotiating the rent. Most of us think rent is a set price like shopping for items at the grocery store. However, it’s absolutely possible to negotiate your monthly rent amount. Your landlord is a business, and you are a customer. Most businesses want to keep their customers happy. That means your landlord or potential landlord may be willing to take less money for the monthly rent. It’s vital that you figure out what is a great deal and when to grab that apartment in Boston that makes your friends think you are genius.

The bottom line is that you will never know unless you try. What is the harm in putting in an offer on a sweet Boston apartment? We know what you must be thinking. Will it be worth it to negotiate your rent and go through the time and stress? The answer could be yes. If you haven’t negotiated before or made a major negotiation, you’re probably feeling a bit nervous right now. That’s completely normal and understandable. It may be far outside your comfort zone. You need to keep in mind that the results will vary based on the situation and people involved.

In fact, negotiating a great apartment will depend on numerous factors. These include the location and particulars of the apartment or house in question. Time of year matters in a big way. Some landlords are more willing to lower the rent than others. Your landlord or potential landlord may want you to believe that there’s no wiggle room when renting an apartment in Boston. However, that is not always the case.

New House Boston

Saving On Rent Provides You With More Money For Other Things

Your monthly rent makes up a significant portion of your expenses, and a high percentage of your income. Negotiating it down by even a small percentage can save you a significant amount of money. Let’s use a $2,500 per month rent as our example. If you negotiate a 5% reduction that equals $125 per month. That also equals $1,500 per year. What if you can negotiate 10% off of the monthly rent. That equals $250 per month or $3,000 per year. Just think about what you could do with all of that extra money. Saving money opens up opportunities for you such as….

Saving For A Down Payment On A House

Do you have a long-term goal of buying a house? You can put the money away that you’re saving on your rent. It adds up quickly. Before you know it, you’ll have enough for the down payment.

Pay Off Debt

If your budget is tight, you may be paying the minimum amounts on your credit cards. That just covers the interest but doesn’t lower the actual balance. In essence, it’s like shoveling sand against the tide. However, if you’re saving on your rent, you can make larger payments on your debt. That way you can start paying down the balances until you are free of credit card debt.

Put The Money Towards Retirement

Did you know that by investing an additional $100 per month for 20 years with an super low annual return of just 4% you would add over $36,000 to your retirement account? Now think of the impact of adding $125 per month or even $250 peer month. Imagine what 8% or 12% looks like to your bank account. You could easily get up over $150,000 to $300,000 if you did some increased savings and savvy investments.

Buying Something Special

Saving for a down payment for a house is a good thing. So is paying off debt and putting the money towards retirement. However, there are times when you just need to buy something special for yourself. Saving the money on rent can present you with this opportunity. So go out and splurge on a new pair of shoes. Save up the money and go on a nice vacation. You deserve it.

Negotiate rent

Top Tips for Negotiating if You’re Planning on Renting an Apartment in Boston

So how do you go about negotiating the rent in the best way possible? The following tips will teach you how to negotiate the rent when renting an apartment or house.

To truly succeed at negotiating, you need to make the other party feel as if they are also winning. Negotiating isn’t about wheeling and dealing. It’s not about hustling the other party out of money. It is about providing value for both sides. That means you need to think in terms that will provide value to the landlord for offering you a reduction in the rent. Here are a few tips that will help you in this regard….

Make A Reasonable Offer

You need to keep in mind that each and every situation is different. That means it will be far more difficult to negotiate the rent in competitive rental markets. When tenants outnumber the amount of available rental units the landlords have the upper hand. Chances are high that the landlords will move on to the next potential tenant until he or she finds one willing to pay top dollar. In some cases, there may be a bidding war. That means multiple people are willing to pay more than the initial rent price. However, when there are more apartments than tenants willing to rent them, the tenants have the upper hand. Windows of opportunity come and go quickly so your ability to make a decision will often determine your outcome. Being prepared to quickly put down a deposit if you’re renting an apartment in Boston is going to take organizational skills.

So, if there are an abundance of apartments on the market you may negotiate yourself a great deal. This holds especially true if an apartment you like has been empty for 90 days or longer. Remember the part where we said that both parties need to feel as if they’ve won? You get to rent the apartment for less than the asking rental price. That saves you money. It also helps to know how much rent the landlord has already lowered their price from the previous tenant. The landlord gets to rent an apartment that’s been empty for months on end. That stops the landlord from losing money every month the place is empty. That is called a win-win situation. Let’s take a look at the current rental market in Boston, MA.

Although Boston is nearly always an incredibly competitive rental market, the Covid pandemic has temporarily changed things. Since Covid hit, rents are down in various neighborhoods anywhere from 5% to 20%. There are some huge discrepancies in the percentage down based on a myriad of factors too long for this article. Suffice to say that now is a great time to negotiate the rent on an apartment in Boston. There is a very real chance that three months from now this option might not exist. The Covid pandemic won’t last forever. College students may very well be returning in full force to Boston in September 2021. International travel will start to pick back up soon. That means supply and demand will shift back to normal levels. That also means rents will be back up. Now is the best time to move to an apartment in Boston in recent history. Lock in your rent now while you still can.

Negotiate More Than The Rent Price if You’re Renting an Apartment in Boston

It’s important to consider other terms in your lease in addition to the monthly rent price. The holds especially true if the landlord refuses to budge on the rent amount. However, you can still negotiate other things such as getting the wood floors refinished, or getting the place repainted, what about that dog or cat you always wanted? If the unit is vacant, it is possible to negotiate to have new kitchen appliances installed. If the refrigerator or stove is old, and looks like it doesn’t have much left in the tank, don’t be scared to ask for a new one. The worst you can get is a no.

If a building has multiple vacancies, you gain the upper hand. If the management company has multiple vacancies across the city, you gain some power. You may also be able to negotiate better terms if you choose a unit that is less desirable. For example, an apartment that’s located on the first floor, or has an undesirable layout. Open your mind to the possibilities of making an offer when renting an apartment in Boston.

Vacant apartment in cold months

Offer To Sign A Longer Lease

As you’re probably well aware, vacant apartments are a landlord’s worst nightmare. Each and every month that a unit or multiple units sit empty equals a loss of money. The apartment may not be generating any income. However, the owner still needs to pay the monthly mortgage on the building. The owner still needs to pay the high taxes and lofty insurance premium. The heat bill must be paid, or the pipes could freeze during the cold weather. Maintenance and expenses don’t stop when there isn’t any rental income. In addition, finding a tenant takes time and money. It costs money to advertise the apartment.

It takes time to show the apartment to potential tenants. It takes time and money to verify the potential tenant’s employment and income. Sometimes potential tenant’s change their mind after all of this has been done. That is exactly why the landlord would rather have you sign a longer lease. They may even be willing to do this for a stable or lower rent amount. When apartments sit empty the landlord is losing rent money and spending money to find a new tenant. This holds true for each and every day the apartment is vacant.

Offer to sign a lease longer than the most popular 12-month lease. That way the landlord won’t need to find a new tenant every year. Some landlords have fallen off the larger 9/1 leasing cycle that dominates Boston. Many landlords in Boston would like to get back on that schedule. Make sure the negotiation process is positive. Try to understand the landlords needs. Inform the landlord that you love the apartment and would like to stay for a longer duration where you both benefit.

Grab an apartment during winter months

Did you know that when the weather is cold, fewer people want to shop for apartments? The people who are looking for apartments have the upper hand. Once again it comes down to supply and demand. Less potential tenants’ equal better deals for tenants who are looking to rent. In addition, most people don’t want to move during the winter. Between packing up and the potential for bad weather during moving day, it’s creates some hurdles.

If you’re searching during the offseason, extending your lease to end in June or September is often more attractive to landlords. Most landlords never want their lease to end in the winter. Landlords in Boston also dread having to go and renovate or clean up a property when weather can cause all kinds of problems getting it quickly completed in a safe manner. It’s easier for landlords to get things done on their properties when there more hours of daylight and not having to worry about carrying in large objects with ice on the ground. If you can extend your lease to a better period of lease renewal time, it’s possible the landlord may reduce the rent or work a better plan so that both of you benefit.

Know the building in Boston

Be Familiar With The Building Or House

It’s important to know as much as possible about the building or house that you want to rent. In essence, it will give you an advantage during negotiations. That means you need to learn about the rent prices for other apartments in the building. The same holds true if you’re planning to rent a house. Find out how much the rents are for similar houses in the neighborhood. This may sound like an overwhelming task. However, it becomes significantly easier when you work with a professional real estate agent. It’s also necessary to pay careful attention during your tour of the apartment. It is helpful to find trusted and quality information about prevailing rents in each area.

If the common areas of the building are poorly maintained, you can use that as a negotiation point. Same thing if the appliances are outdated. If there have been noise complaints of health department violations, you can use that to your advantage as well. When you mention these things during the negotiation process your landlord may reduce the monthly rent or promise to make improvements for better practices. Tenants should approach this process in a professional way for the benefit of both parties.

Make Yourself Look Good

When you are negotiating the rent and other variables it’s important to make yourself look as good as possible. That means you should never undervalue the aspect of personal appeal. Solid references and a proven track record help. However, most potential tenants have those things. You need to differentiate yourself. Try writing a personal letter to the landlord explaining some things about yourself. It will make more impact if you take the time to write the letter using pen and paper. Once again, anyone can write a quick email. Some tenants have sent in pictures from their cell phones on how they keep their current apartment. If it looks incredible landlords respond to that in a very positive way.

You should also ask to schedule an in-person meeting with the landlord. If you’re restricted due to the Covid pandemic or other issues, at least schedule a Zoom conference call. Show the landlord videos of your current and or former residences. We have heard of numerous tenants offering to facetime their current apartment so landlords see how great tenants keep their places. Little things like this go a long way in proving that you’re a responsible at properly maintaining your living space. It will also give your landlord some insight as to how you’ll decorate. For example, if you have nice furniture and or nice artwork it will make you appear as if you can afford your new apartment.

That will help show you’ll pay the rent on time. On that note, you can provide bank statements. In this case a picture is worth 1,000 words. Landlords want tenants that pay the rent on time every month. They also want tenants that take good care of the apartment. That may make the difference of them lowering the rent or not.

Minor repairs

Offer To Do Minor Maintenance Tasks In Exchange For A Lower Rent

Did you know that you can offer to do minor improvements to items that need to be approved around the apartment? This is a particularly good negotiation tactic for someone who is handy. It also tends to work better when renting a house as opposed to when renting an apartment in Boston. This is because most apartment buildings already have a maintenance person who works full time. However, landlords who rent houses typically need to hire contractors to fix things on a case-by-case basis. Perhaps you offer to paint a room or an entire apartment or house in exchange for a slightly lower rent? It’s a win-win situation for both you and the landlord.

Negotiate The Price Down On A Pet Friendly Rental If You Don’t Have A Pet

There are actually many apartments in Boston and surrounding areas that are pet friendly. You may choose to live in one of them even if you don’t actually have a pet. If so, you may be able to negotiate the rent down a bit. The rent for that unit may be a little higher just in case the tenant actually has a pet. Since you don’t have a pet why should you pay more money? The reason rent is higher for some pet friendly apartments is due to the fact some pets cause a significant amount of damage. Plus, the landlord knows the apartment will almost certainly require more cleaning once the pet-owning tenant moves out. You might be able to use this to your advantage at the negotiation table.

South End Boston

Negotiations When Renting an Apartment in Boston Can Be Difficult

Negotiations certainly don’t make for the most comfortable of situations. You may not even have any negotiation experience. Keep in mind that you need to remain confident when asking for things. You also need to stay realistic regarding your overall expectations. Remain respectful towards the landlord at all times through the entire process. This holds true especially if they’re not budging and you still want to move in. Even if you decide against moving in due to the negotiations you still need to keep your composure. Make a professional offer and move on if you can’t come to terms.

You never want to burn a bridge. Last but certainly not least, put together an offer where all parties win. You’ll be far more likely to get what you want or at least something close to it. If you need help locating or viewing an apartment or multiple apartments, please contact Boston Pads today. There are trained professional real estate agent found on Boston pads to help you negotiate a fair lease and other important aspects if you’re renting an apartment in Boston. Check out the most comprehensive list of available apartments in Boston and surrounding areas.

Happy apartment hunting!


Chris Angles
Chris Angles Posted date:April 1, 2021
Chris Angles is a Manager at Jacob Realty on Newbury Street, Boston.He started with selling and leasing investment properties and condos in Cambridge and Somerville Massachusetts. Eventually, he formed a partnership and ran his own successful real estate brokerage and sales team in Cambridge for six years before teaming up with BostonPads in 2019. Over the past decade he has been driven to get the best results for clients in a constantly changing environment. His experience allows him to confidently represent sellers, buyers, investors, landlords and tenants. The market is fast paced and whether it’s using the newest social media marketing opportunities, creating virtual tours for remote showings, or shooting that perfect arial drone footage, having the tools you need and knowing how to use them saves time and can make money for clients. Honest hard work is at the heart of what he believes is the key to success in real estate. With a little guidance that hard work will help build your intelligence and sharpen the skills you can offer your clients. He enjoys training agents new to this market with these beliefs in mind, and a goal of becoming the most successful real estate sales team.

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