Can You Negotiate Your Rent In Manhattan?

It can be really hard to find an apartment in Manhattan. Just finding an available apartment in the neighborhood you want and with the features you need is tough enough. (We’re here to help!) Finding one of those that you can afford can be really, really tough.

Getting down to business.
Getting down to business.

Photo: CC 2.0/Nobmouse

Is it possible to negotiate your rent down in Manhattan (or anywhere else, for that matter)? On one hand, a lease is just a contract – and like any other contract, many of its terms, including rent, can be negotiated if the parties are willing. On the other hand, Manhattan rentals are in high demand, so landlords don’t need to negotiate if they don’t want to.

So if you find your dream place but can’t quite afford it (or if you’d just like to pay a little less for it), what should you do? You should ask if there’s any room to negotiate. That doesn’t mean you always have to ask for a lower rent; as you’ll see below, there are other things you can ask for that may lower your aggregate cost of living, and if you can be creative you might find a deal.

First, remember that a lease has several terms (both economic and non-economic) that can affect your total rent and are often negotiable. This often occurs in the form of rent concessions, like “first month free”. You should always ask if there are any concessions, especially if you’re looking at an apartment in a luxury high-rise (these kinds of buildings will often make concessions to get apartments rented quickly). Concessions aren’t uncommon; in February 2014 some 19% of all apartments listed on RentHop were offering a rent concession of some form.

Even if there are no explicit rent concessions, you may be able to get the landlord to waive certain fees or provide additional services that you’d otherwise have to buy. Will the landlord let you use the attached storage unit? Maybe she’ll waive the pet fee. Or perhaps he’ll agree to fix or replace old appliances or repaint the apartment. Key point: don’t ask, don’t get.

Second, consider what’s important to the landlord. Landlords want high rent, but they also want their apartments occupied by tenants who don’t cause trouble and who pay on time. Could you offer to extend the lease an extra year or other period in return for a lower rent (or a below-market rent increase between the first and second year)? What about offering additional security up front? Each of these will give the landlord additional security while giving you some cost certainty.

Some additional things to keep in mind as you prepare to negotiate:

(1) Know the market. A quick search on RentHop will tell you prevailing rents in the neighborhood. If the apartment is badly overpriced you should be able to work the landlord down, especially if you’re a desirable tenant. This will also tell you about capacity nearby – if there are lots of similar apartments available in the neighborhood, you have more leverage than you think.

(2) Be prepared to move quickly. Make sure you’ve got all the documents you need for your application and have made any other arrangements you need to make (e.g., guarantor). This makes you easier to deal with and gives the landlord the sense that you will be an organized, good tenant – the kind s/he should make a deal in order to have.

(3) Read the lease before you start negotiating. Have a good handle on what the lease requires each side to do, and on the concessions you can and can’t (or won’t) make to get a lower rent.

(4) When you ask, ask politely. It’s amazing what you can get if you’re friendly about it.

Good luck!


In case you missed it, we’ve got a post on the comparative costs of living across New York’s boroughs.

Also, want to see the apartments we featured in last week’s newsletters? They’re right here (and going fast!).

You May Also Like

Summer Decorations For Your Apartment

Summer is here to stay, which usually means a beach vacation, frozen margaritas, and chilling in a pleasantly decorated space. But, not everyone has...

10 Things to Check and Inspect Before Renting an Apartment

Moving into a new apartment can be a very exciting time for us all. However, it is important to not get ahead of yourself...

The Hidden Waterfalls of NYC

New York City isn’t just a huge, concrete jungle. Behind the bustling traffic and tall skyscrapers, are both natural and man-made hidden escapes. What...

Recent Articles