Renter Resources  

How to Lower Extra Fees and Negotiate With Your Landlord

 

Moving into an apartment can be expensive. Generally, you will pay application fees, first and last month’s rent, plus a security deposit. There can also be other fees that a landlord may add on. Here are four fees that may cost extra and some suggestions on how to negotiate with your landlord to reduce them. 

Pet Deposit

There’s almost nothing better than a dog or cat to greet you each morning and cuddle with before bed. But, many landlords consider a pet an added risk which can cause damage to an apartment. When you are discussing potential pet deposit fees, it may be worthwhile to share the age, breed and a little about your pet with a landlord. Mention that the dog is crated during the day while you work, that you gate a pet in the kitchen if you are out for extended times, and assure them that the pet is house-broken. If you have a cat, discuss your plan for where you will keep a litter box and assure that your cat is declawed. 

 

If you rent a furnished apartment, you may not have as much leverage because the furniture isn’t yours. However, if you rent an unfinished apartment, then your landlord understands that the furniture is yours and you are assuming a personal risk of damage. It’s important to know that if there is damage from your pet on the floors, walls, rugs or other items, that cost could be absorbed by your security deposit. You may also suggest providing a letter of reference from a prior landlord who can tell a new landlord that your pet did not damage the premises.

Parking Fees

If your apartment is privately owned, or sometimes in other select circumstances, parking fees can be negotiated. In a city, for example, steep parking fees can be as high as $100 or more extra per month. This added expense can really make an impact on your monthly budget. If you do have a car, you can certainly ask your landlord if there is any chance the parking fee can be lowered. They may tell you they have no wiggle room or no say over the price. But, if they manage several units in the same building, or if they own the apartment outright they can generally reduce the parking fee. You can suggest options like taking a longer lease, paying more for peak months like the summer, or ask them if you can pay an upfront discounted price for the year. This arrangement may entice a lower price.

Subletting Fees

It’s very common for tenants to sublet an apartment particularly in a college town or if there’s a job transfer. Some landlords can charge hundreds of dollars in fees for a credit check, administrative fees, and other application costs. It’s worth your time to ask for a reduction of these fees, particularly because the existing tenant is generally the one paying these costs. If the person subletting is someone you know, or if they were referred by a friend, you can tell the landlord that he or she is pre-screened with references. Another strategy is to point out the potential chance that the new tenant will continue the lease. It costs money to advertise, screen and check credit for a new tenant. If this sublet tenant is a good tenant, it can ease the worry and work for your landlord. Be sure to share these advantages. 

Application Fees

You may think that application fees are nominal, but if you are already over your budget with your rent, security deposits and other costs, these added application fees could really impact your budget solvency. You can certainly ask if fees can be reduced or even waived. Your landlord does have discretion to this. You won’t know, unless you ask, but do it kindly.

How to Negotiate Fees With Your Landlord

Moving into an apartment is costly, but there are certainly strategies to try to keep the costs down. Be forthcoming with your landlord and ask if pet deposits, application fees, parking costs and subletting charges can be negotiated. If you suggest bundling fees, paying a bulk rate upfront, or assure them that you are open to a longer lease, your landlord may be more willing to negotiate. Be polite, respectful and have talking points ready for a professional conversation.