HOW TO: Re-Up Your Lease, Keep The Same Rent

We and our girlfriend’s 12 month apartment lease ran out and so we signed another lease, but our rent stayed the same.

This is virtually unheard of in New York. Almost always, landlords will raise the rents when you sign the lease again.

How did we and our girlfriend work together to attain this coup?


We:

• Established trust.
• Looked out for his interests.
• Found ways to benefit him financially, above and beyond simply paying the rent.
• Expressed interest in a more profitable business relationship in the future.

Here’s how that translates into real-world action. We:

• Paid rent in full and on time. On the couple of occasions we couldn’t, we let our landlord know in advance.
• Never bounced checks
• Were always nice to our landlord.
• Made requests for things to be fixed and checked up on them, but never nagged. We took a tone of “let’s improve the place” not “here’s what you need to do for us.”
• Sent out notices to friends about the fantastic and vacant retail space our landlord had below us.
• Hooked up the landlord with another broker in the neighborhood who might be able to help him rent out the space.
• Went in to sign our new lease on the week before New Year’s, the slowest week of the year.
• Asked about all the elephant statues he had in his office.
• In the meeting, praised the building and expressed interest in possibly purchasing the apartment.

When he passed off the papers to an assistant, he said, “raise the rent to $2000.” He kinda smiled and looked at us. We looked at him directly in the eyes with no expression on our face. We said nothing. Our landlord said, “they’re not listening.” We said nothing. He said to his assistant, “Keep it the same. Just extend the current lease. That’s the easiest.”

His assistant asked him, “are you sure?” at least three times.

A week later we handed in our rent checks, along with a big bottle of scotch and a Happy New Year card. The checks totaled $1650.

Giant props to our girlfriend who was the driving force behind most of the nice, extra social lubrication stuff. It was her idea to give him a bottle of scotch, for example. — BEN POPKEN

Comments

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  1. battlerobo says:

    yay congrats!
    “you’ll always catch more flies with honey…” or something like that!

  2. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    So….kiss ass, then give the silent treatment?

    Hehe, just kidding, congrats!

  3. Musician78 says:

    I have been living in the same place for 4 years. When I first moved in I was paying X amount of dollars. A year later, the rent was DECREASED to X-$50. Two years after that, I had an increase of $50, making it (X-$50)+ $50. So I am actually paying the same amount now as I was when I first moved in. Bizzare *or however it is spelled*.

  4. Nothing beats an on-time paying renter like a very nice on-time paying renter. :)

    These are solid tips that probably work best if you’re renting from a person, or a small group, and less so with a corporation that only cares about money. There’s something to be said about a headache-free positive cash flow arrangement.

  5. Panhandler says:

    And if your landlord *is* raising your rent, check local law (state law and local ordinance) for caps on how much s/he can raise it. This is a local thing, not a federal one, and you should really ask a lawyer, but if you’re intrepid you can probably research it yourself.

    And if you’re ever a landlord, as I was once (and too briefly), do what the landlord in this story does: **appreciate good tenants.** I trusted a sweet little old lady who turned out to be a f-cking stiff. Lost 6 weeks’ rent and would’ve lost a bit more in lawyer fees if I weren’t one. She was the bad apple that spoils a bunch; I’ll never again accept less than a full month’s deposit, if I ever turn my place into a rental again.

  6. NOW the royal we has achieved creepy!

  7. Smoking Pope says:

    @Musician78: I had the same thing (kinda) happen to me. My lease ran out during a promotion where I could get one month’s rent for free. So I signed the minimum 6 month lease (option only for current tenants), reducing the rent by 17%.

    When that 6 month lease ran out, the 10% increase was accidentally applied to the discounted rent, and not the full price. So I signed a 1 year lease and locked the wrong price in. Suh-weet!

  8. officedrone4 says:

    I have a management company. They did raise my rent, but they also decreased the amount they raised it by because I asked nicely.

    They originally wanted to raise the rent $200. I asked them if they could budge on that since “we really love our apartment and want to stay.” Also asked if it would be possible to extend the lease two months since I will be going back to school and it would save me the trouble of searching for a two-month sublet.

    Their response… sure! They lowered the amount they were asking for by almost 20% and signed a 14 month instead of a 12 month lease.

    It is true, even with larger companies (as mine is- well over 4000 tenants in our complex alone – and they own several other buildings in NYC) if you ask nicely, you can usually get at least some of what you want.

    The result- my share of the rent increased $40 each month. The result for many of my friends who DIDN’t negotiate? An increase in some cases of a couple hundred EACH a month.

    The lesson: ask nicely!!

  9. Pelagius says:

    Unfortunately, this system does not work so well with my landlord MegaGiantPropertyCo International Incorporated

  10. Smoking Pope says:

    “These are solid tips that probably work best if you’re renting from a person, or a small group, and less so with a corporation that only cares about money.”

    Yeah, true in general, but even with a corporation, there’s an apartment manager involved and they’ll work for you to cut you some slack if you pay on time, don’t hold weekly all night ragers (without inviting him), etc.

  11. Kornkob says:

    Also, keep in mind that in some markets the land lord isn’t in a position to screw you. Talk to the local Tennants Association or similar group to find out what the current rental market is like. Sometimes there’s competition for space, other times it’s a renter’s market.

    Remember– it’s in the landlord’s interest to keep maximum occupancy. If you are a good renter and occupancy is down in your area you are in a superior negotiating position.

  12. RandomHookup says:

    I’m actually far more interested in this girlfriend sharing arrangement you have going on.

  13. When he passed off the papers to an assistant, he said, “raise the rent to $2000.” He kinda smiled and looked at us. We looked at him directly in the eyes with no expression on our face. We said nothing. Our landlord said, “they’re not listening.” We said nothing. He said to his assistant, “Keep it the same. Just extend the current lease. That’s the easiest.”

    Do you think he kept it the same because you didn’t complain or that he was only kidding about raising your rent in the first place?

    I’m waiting for someone to make a comment about the use of the royal we here. Did anyone else do a double take at “our girlfriend”?

  14. Ben Popken says:

    SuperMegaFacelessLandlord Incorporated is a large company composed of many individual humans, each of whom can be a chink in the armor to slide your happy consumer dagger under.

  15. holocron says:

    We’ve been in our current place for 2.5 years now. We do all the nice things mentioned, however out landlord already noted to us, after we renewed for the start of the third year that he does not raise rent. He figures you should get something for tenure and being good tenants. So he maintains the rent as what you started with. Good deal.

  16. Ben Popken says:

    Rectilinear, I think he kept it the same because we greased him up good, were good tennants, and then gave him a stony poker face when he suggested raising the rents.

    Don’t forget: “His assistant asked him, “are you sure?” at least three times…”

    Seems like this was an out-of-the-ordinary move for our landlord.

  17. notallcompaniesarebad says:

    Good advice. It’s nice to see that a lot of the time, being friendly and courteous still works in this world. I think a lot of the time that message is lost, especially on this site. At times you need to fight fire with fire, but often times, a little bit of scotch (figuratively, at least) works as well.

  18. missdona says:

    Ohh we love our girlfriend! She’s the best.

  19. RumorsDaily says:

    Now you should sublet it at a profit and move to Tijuana with the extra cash.

  20. timmus says:

    That “our girlfriend” phrase always cracks me up. I run a small business almost entirely by myself and it reminds me how I use “we” and “our” on all correspondence.

  21. Chongo says:

    I can completly vouch for the things ben said in this post. I did every thing the same and it worked (in Chicago). There are a couple things though that might of worked in my favor… one being that its a family owned building and they only own one other property. SEcond, they are OLD… and I mean real old. They most likely have owned the building so long that all mortages are paid off and everything they get for rent is all profit.

    I have bounced a check once but I gave them a 2 week heads up on it.

    Recently they renewed all of the tenets leases to run up on the same day in April. She claimed for organizational purposes. I think it can work out for me in the end though because all of us tenants are going to say were all moving at once unless rent stays the same (or lower).

  22. misskaz says:

    I’ve lived in the same place for 3 years and the rent has never been raised. Of course, the rental market in Chicago is pretty soft. Unfortunately I have to leave soon (viewing a couple new places tomorrow); the apt. is too small, the landlord is nice but not so great about fixing things, and the upstairs neighbors make me want to shoot them. I can only hope my next place will be with a similarly nice but more responsive landlord.

  23. kimdog says:

    I moved into my place in Manhattan almost 6 years ago, the March after 9/11. I was able to talk the landlord down by $200 a month because the rental market was soft, and I was already living in the building as a roommate. I signed a two year lease with a $50 increase in the second year. Then my rent stayed the same for the next three years. My rent just went up again but only by another $50.

    I followed the same line as Ben- pay on time, no bounced checks, and be very good tenant. I’ve had some issues with slow repairs, but have always been polite and responsive… this year I was even able to get my tub and sink reglazed by asking nicely.

  24. infinitysnake says:

    “our girlfriend.” Who are you sharing her with?

  25. If Consumerist is based out of our and our girlfriend’s apartment, I wonder if you can’t expense that scotch?

  26. matto says:

    I still don’t get the part about the silent stare and when the bottle of scotch showed up. Were you staring at the scotch, or was the property manager talking to it?

  27. katana says:

    That definitely didn’t work in my building.


    Small, independent landlords are MUCH easier to pursuade, in general, than cold corporate drone management companies. So I’ve found, anyway.

    Live in a complex owned by a large multi-state property owner? You’re often f*in screwed.

  28. katana says:

    ** It could work on OCCASION with larger management companies, but it did not for me. My neighbors tried it, as well, even with more BS smoothtalking.. and had their rent raised $300+. Mine was “only” raised $200. Sucks ass.. but, that’s generally one of the downsides of having a huge corporate landlord.

  29. RobDLG says:

    The rent on my Silicon Valley apartment dropped from a high of $1145/month in 2001 to $825/month a couple of years ago. That had more to do with the local economy than anything else, and apparently things have picked up a bit because my rent recently increased.

    Anyway, here’s a link for California residents:
    Consumer Publications Landlord/Tenant – California Departm…

  30. curlyheatherg says:

    I wish I had a landlord, instead of one company that owns the building, one that processes the checks, one that handles the lease, and one that does the maintainence. I will do what I can though. Thanks for the inspiration!

  31. Sudonum says:

    As a former landlord, I can definitely tell you that a landlord will also bend over backwards to keep a good tenant, especially after he’s had to get rid of a couple of bad ones. Rented a place out and didn’t raise the rent for 6 years to this woman. She took excellent care of the place and always paid on time.

  32. Chris says:

    Nicely played.

  33. wirelesslanai says:

    When I first moved to Hawaii I was a renter, I used this trick and it always worked…keep current of the market conditions, and NEGOTIATE! First, we were in an apartment for $750. He knew we were good tenants, but I noticed the market getting really depressed, and I knew I didn’t want us to move. I negotiated the rent down to $650, promising him we’d stay another year. He went for it. In this same dismal market, when it was time to move to a bigger house due to twins on the way, I negotiated $700 for a single family home in a very rural area, arguing it was so far from anything, I’d need extra money for gas, and that worked. We stayed in that house for 7 years. Agree, lots of buttering up helps.A soft real estate market can always work in your favor!

  34. buthidae says:

    Smooth moves, Ben and girlfriend of Ben :-)

  35. Johnie says:

    officedrone4

    Anyways, when I was in Normandie, I did the same thing. They wanted to raise the rent $300. I go, I’m actually looking for a reduction in rent. They go..fine.. We’ll keep it the same.

    What happend was we didn’t contact them about the lease until the week before the end of our current lease. This meant that if we had left, they would have eaten a loss.

  36. senator133 says:

    Wish I wouldnt have read all that. Since you’re saving $350/mo I think you owe me $200 for pain and suffering.

  37. malatron says:

    Ahh, the merits of social capital. Far too many people overlook this.

    I couldn’t tell you how many times I saw a merchant sell a product or service for market rate to someone he didn’t know -only to sell the same item to someone he considered a friend- at a discounted price.

    The working class, immigrant communities, extended familes, and people of lesser economic means have been using social capital amongst themselves to ease the strain for years. And what is interesting about this is that although there is indeed an economic benefit to building social capital, by default it can not stem only from a selfish desire for greater benefit to oneself, but must come from a sincere understanding, compassion, and empathy for who you are dealing with.

    It’s possible to attain the benefits otherwise, but they will abrubtly run out at some point unless your own efforts on your side are sincere. This is something that is lost on many people who pay full price for a host of products and services, in the communities they run in.

    Social capital can really help illuminate how two very different classes of people can live in the same “anywhere Northeast” town experiencing out of control housing prices, with a relative similarity in lives.

    With a newer, less aware resident wondering aloud to him/herself, “I just don’t know how those people can afford to live here, everything here is SO expensive”

    Ha! That makes me chuckle everytime.

  38. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Hey, you fought the good fight and won. Aside from the techniques, the lesson here is…you have nothing to lose by asking (or in this case, remaining silent). Good move.

    With all that money you saved, think of all the loyal commentors you could take out to dinner! (Or, you know, like I suppose you could use it to pay say..the electric bill).

  39. Hyman Decent says:

    • In the meeting, praised the building and expressed interest in possibly purchasing the apartment.

    I don’t get it. That implies that your apartment is a condo or a co-op, doesn’t it? But you mention earlier that your landlord has a retail space below your apartment. ???

  40. ohnothimagain says:

    You forgot this bullet–

    Make sure landlord knows you run high-visibilty consumer internet site that has a record of bringing corporations to their knees.

  41. isadora says:

    We love this post. Our husband thinks it’s the bee’s knees.

    Our husband once got us a great deal on a short-term lease but suggesting that our marriage wasn’t working out and we might need to move out quickly. He’s quick thinking, that husband of ours.