TGIF! Since its’ still renters’ month, and because I got this question yesterday, here’s what you can do if your landlord tries to raise your rent. None of this is guaranteed to work, but if you do your research and are prepared for a conversation, you will at least seem like you’re actually capable of moving out and moving on, so the landlord may not want to call your bluff. Their biggest leverage is that moving sucks and they know you’d rather stay than bail, but you can use the below to level the playing field.
First, how much are they trying to raise the rent, and is your lease protected or not? If you live in a rent stabilized apartment (see basically everything I’ve ever written because I’m a ball of anger at bad landlords), the % your rent can go up each year is set by the city. You can look it up online HERE. This year it is 1.5% for a one year lease and 2.5% for a two year. De Blasio had a three year freeze where rents weren’t allowed to go up at all, but the maximum would be 7%. If your lease is protected and your landlord is trying to overcharge, call me and we will deal with it. Check here whether your apartment is rent stabilized, because you may not know it. If your lease isn’t protected, your landlord still can’t try to raise it an insane percentage, like say 50%, unless you’ve been there at the same rent for so long that it’s simply bringing the apartment up to market level. If you feel like your landlord is trying to massively overcharge you, either to get you out of the apartment or because he’s a jerk, call me and we will figure it out. Seriously, my end goal in real estate is to work mostly in sales (less of an imbalance of power) but spend my free time helping tenants and fighting shitty landlords. If you’re going to be a landlord, be a good one, guys.
Second, let’s say that the increase is legal and not completely insane (say 10% on a free market apartment). I’d recommend following the below procedures in order to attempt a negotiation. You’ll do better if you live in a neighborhood with oversupply, if you’ve been a model tenant (paying rent on time, no noise complaints, generally not annoying), and if your lease start date doesn’t fall between May and September.
Point out that you always pay your rent on time, aren’t difficult, and are just too good to lose! It’s very expensive for a landlord to get rid of a bad tenant, and finding someone new is always at least slightly labor intensive.
Look at comps in the building and nearby. Comps are other apartments equivalent to yours that have rented recently. If you see that everything in your building rented at a higher price than you paid, you may be shit out of luck, but maybe not. Also look at days on market; if they got a slightly higher rent but it took them 4 months, mention that. But be wary of bringing up things that rented in February if your lease ends in July. Make sure you’re pointing to places that rented in the off-season if you’re off-season, or vise versa. This will give you the best leverage.
Look at what is on the market now, and find apartments you’d be willing to move to that are either nicer for same price or cheaper and comparable. It’s especially good if you can find something that’s no fee. It’s harder for a landlord to call your bluff if you can move without paying a broker fee. Even if you can’t, if there’s a TON of inventory in your neighborhood then you can say that there’s oversupply so you’ll likely be able to negotiate a reduced fee or even a lower rent to make things move.
Tying in with the no fee thing, if your apartment was a no fee and/or you got incentives like a free month of rent or a free year of amenities, bring that up. Point out that they would likely have to offer the same thing again to a new tenant. In most cases no fee means the landlord is paying his broker a month out of pocket, which isn’t nothing, even for a landlord!
Bring up that turning over the apartment will take at least some time and effort (repainting, deep cleaning, etc) and it may also sit vacant for at least one month while he finds a new tenant, especially if your lease ends in a non-peak month. Occupied apartments are generally a pain in the ass to show, and no one wants to lose a month of rent while they search for someone else. Again, this works best if you’ve been a good tenant and there is an abundance of availability in your ‘hood.
Again, this may or may not work for you. Certain management companies have a set protocol of rent increases every year, while others are individual owners just playing it by ear. If you do educate yourself about the rental climate in your neighborhood, and you sound like you know what you’re doing, you are more likely to have success than if you just call them crying about how it’s not fair. Be nice, be smart, and, as always, let me know if you run into any problems. I’m here for you, guys!