How to Negotiate Rent in NYC

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Written By Alina Sokirko

Landlords can charge whatever they like to rent a unit in a building they own (except for rent-regulated apartments). However, tenants also have the right to negotiate. 

With so much competition from other potential renters, negotiating with an NYC landlord can often be challenging. But if you’ve built a solid relationship or have some additional leverage, you can always try to get a better deal. Here is a look at everything you need to know to negotiate rent in New York City to help increase your chances of success. 

NYC Rent Increase Overview 

First, it’s essential to know the laws governing rent increases in New York City. There is no official limit on how much a landlord can increase the rent unless you live in a building that is rent-stabilized or rent-controlled. But the landlord must provide you with advanced, written notice of any rent increases over 5%.

The amount of notice required varies depending on how long you’ve lived in the apartment. 

The amount of notice required includes: 

  • 90 days if you’ve lived there more than two years
  • 60 days if you’ve lived there for between 1 and 2 years
  • 30 days if you’ve lived there for less than 1 year

This will give you time to prepare an argument if you’re going to negotiate the increase.

How to Negotiate Rent in NYC

1. Do Your Homework

The first step is to do your homework. If you go to the negotiating table without any hard facts or data to back up your arguments, you are unlikely to get what you want. So, do as much research on the local market as possible to prepare your case. Look at the rental prices of other comparable units in the neighborhood. Also, look into how much rent has increased in the area over the past few years or decades. If you notice discrepancies between these data points and what your landlord is charging, you can use this to support your argument. 

2. Start the Conversation Early 

Also, be sure to start the conversation early if you want to increase your chances of success. Don’t beat around the bush and wait until the last minute. You want to give yourself enough time to find a new place if the negotiation does not go in your favor (or at least threaten to). If you wait until the last minute and your landlord knows you have little time to find a new place, they have a lot more leverage in the situation. But if you are proactive and make an offer as soon as possible, it’s more likely to go in your favor. 

3. Play to your Strengths 

It’s also important to play to your strengths when negotiating the rent. For instance, if you’ve lived in the building for a while and you’ve always paid your rent on time, make sure to bring this up in the negotiations. Good tenants are hard to find, and your landlord knows that (even if they may not admit it). Dropping the price a bit for a quality tenant may be less expensive than taking a risk on an entirely new person, who may or may not pay on time. So, whatever you can do to play to highlight your good behavior will help with negotiations.  

4. Consider Your Own Costs

It’s also essential to consider your own costs before entering into negotiations. How much are you currently paying for utilities, groceries, transportation, childcare, etc.? If the rent goes up, will you be able to afford it? Analyzing your own costs and making an accurate budget will help you know where you stand. It may not be wise to inform your landlord of these additional responsibilities – unless you think it may appeal to their sense of empathy. But it will give you a better understanding of how much you can realistically afford and the breaking point at which you simply need to walk away and find a new place to live. 

5. Get Creative

It also helps to get creative when it comes time to negotiate. Maybe you agree to sign a longer lease in exchange for the landlord dropping the price. Or maybe you could help them fill other vacant units by recommending a friend in exchange for a break on the rent. It’s up to you to figure out what will help you secure a better deal. But if you can get creative and find a way to meet your landlord halfway, you’ll have more room to negotiate. 

6. Be Realistic

An important factor in any negotiation is to be realistic. It may not be possible to stop your landlord from increasing the rent entirely, especially if property values and the cost of living have gone up since you first moved in. But you may be able to bring it down a bit if you are persuasive enough. For instance, if your landlord is increasing the rent by 10%, it will be tough to convince them to drop it to 2%. But you may have a chance at landing somewhere around 7-8% with a solid argument. You can start the conversations even lower and see where they land, but it’s important to be realistic if you want to be taken seriously. 

Negotiating Rent in NYC Bottom Line

The bottom line is that nothing is set in stone when it comes to rental prices. Everything can be negotiated, especially if you’ve lived in the unit for a while and you have a good relationship with your landlord. But, keep in mind that no shortage of willing tenants in New York City could take your place if you don’t play your cards right.

So, it’s important to do your homework and be straightforward about what you want. As long as you are realistic and willing to compromise, most landlords will be receptive. But if you let your emotions get the best of you and simply argue instead of negotiating, you are unlikely to get what you want.