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?


• 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