My Guide to Negotiating Lower Rent with Your Landlord

Date posted: Sept. 23, 2016
Negotiating Lower Rent with Your Landlord

Photo Credit: Ján Jakub Naništa


For many Canadians, housing is one of our biggest monthly expenses, and we often spend too much on it. According to a 2011 Statistics Canada survey, 49.7% of millennials spend more than 30% of their income on housing.

Spending too much on your rent prevents you from using your income to pay off debt or save for the future, and can be detrimental to your financial health. It’s important to get the best deal possible on your housing, which is why you should always try to negotiate lower rent with your landlord.

But negotiating isn’t easy, and many Canadians are uncomfortable with bargaining. That’s why I’ve created this handy guide to negotiating with your landlord for lower rent:

Step One – Arm yourself with facts

First, you should do your research and collect as many facts as possible about the local rental market. If you are renting a one-bedroom apartment, you should know what other one-bedroom apartments are going for in your neighbourhood. Make a note of any differences between those units and yours. Do most other units have a dishwasher or ensuite laundry and yours doesn’t? If so, you deserve to pay less for your apartment.

You should also try to find out what your landlord is charging for their other one-bedroom apartments. Often landlords with many properties will have different rates, and sometimes rates will vary even within the same building. Talk to your neighbours and find out what they are paying.

Once you know what you ought to be paying, decide how much of a reduction you are going to ask for, but be prepared to sweeten the deal.

Step Two - Be prepared to offer perks in exchange for lower rent

Your landlord is unlikely to give you a rental reduction just because you asked. To improve your chances of success, you can sweeten the deal by offering additional benefits to your landlord. Here are some examples:

  • Sign a longer lease such as 18 months or two years
  • Take over maintenance responsibilities like snow and garbage removal
  • Extend your notice period from 30 to 60 or 90 days

These additional benefits have value to your landlord and will make your proposal more appealing.

Step 3 – Highlight your benefits

A good landlord values a good tenant. If you’ve been a model renter, make sure to emphasize this. Here are some examples of model tenant behavior that you could highlight:

  • Not having a pet
  • Being a quiet, non-partying tenant
  • Not smoking
  • Paying your rent on time every month

Landlords value no hassle tenants who pay their bills on time, so make sure your landlord knows how great you are!

Step 4 – Ask for a specific number

If you’ve done your research, you probably have an idea in your head of how much you’d like your rent reduction to be. Maybe it’s $100, maybe it’s $150, but you should have a concrete number.

When it comes time to ask for lower rent, make sure to ask for a specific number. Don’t be vague or leave the ball in your landlord’s court to suggest the amount of rent reduction. Ask for what you want. If you are prepared to move out unless you get a rent reduction, make sure that is known too.

A Final Word on Negotiating

There is no way around it - negotiating is awkward. No matter how seasoned a bargainer you may be, it’s always easier to just accept the price as-is, and deal with paying higher rent. But by not negotiating your rent, you could be leaving thousands of dollars per year on the table, when it should be in your wallet instead.

Remember, if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

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