Ask an Expert

I got a big rent increase with my lease renewal. Can I negotiate?

By Alanna Schubach | March 7, 2022 - 12:30PM

If your lease renewal came with a steep rent hike, you're certainly not alone. 

iStock

Question:

I just received my lease renewal and my landlord wants to raise my rent by 10 percent. I'm an excellent tenant and have always paid my rent on time. Can I negotiate my new rent?

Answer:

You're certainly not alone. Renters across New York City are receiving lease renewals with unpleasant surprises: A rent increase—with some landlords asking tenants to pay as much as 30 to 60 percent more. Still, it may be possible to talk your landlord down a bit by approaching negotiations from a positive angle, our experts say. 

First, the big picture: Across the city, rental inventory is low, demand is high, and landlords are trying to hike rents back up to pre-pandemic levels for high-end rentals to make up for their losses when the rental market was stalled. There are even bidding wars for rentals as prospective renters try to beat the competition for a scarce number of desirable apartments. 

You can try to negotiate, but keep in mind that for market-rate apartments like yours, landlords can increase the rent by as much as they think the market will bear. And depending on the type of apartment you're in, you may not have much leverage. 

"If you're in a modern, corporate-managed, full-service rental complex with amenities, you probably have no leverage—and oftentimes the accompanying cover letter will state that the renewal offer is non-negotiable," says Gordon Roberts, a broker at Sotheby's International Realty. "The discounted deals that some tenants got during the pandemic have ended, and even the faithful who stayed on through the pandemic and paid their rent on time are facing across-the-board increases in rent and extras such as amenity fees." 

That doesn't mean you have to automatically accept your landlord's rent increase, however, particularly if there are ongoing issues with your apartment or the building. You could outline these for your landlord and propose a more modest rent increase. 

Pro Tip:

Looking for a more affordable rental? Or maybe a landlord who is flexible about guarantors, pets, or "flexing" a space with temporary walls?  Put your search into the capable hands of Triplemint, a tech-savvy real estate brokerage founded by a pair of Yale grads in response to the frustrating apartment-search experiences of classmates and colleagues. Triplemint will charge a broker's fee of 10 percent of a year's rent on open listings instead of the usual 12 to 15 percent if you sign up here. Bonus: The agents at Triplemint are a delight to deal with.

"A tenant can certainly write to management and have one’s concerns on record, especially if there are issues with the building or its management," Roberts says. 

On the other hand, you may find you have more luck by emphasizing the positive when you reach out to your landlord. 

"Let him or her know that you are not comfortable with a 10 percent increase, and add that you have been an excellent tenant who pays the rent on time. You are respectful of the property, you enjoy living in the apartment, and you hope to stay on as good tenant," says Dennis R. Hughes, a broker at Corcoran.

Another factor that could be on your side: Your landlord might not want to deal with the responsibilities that come with a tenant vacating the apartment. If you did choose to move because the rent increase was too high, the landlord would be obligated to re-paint the apartment, make other small repairs, and re-list and market the unit, Hughes points out. 

Your landlord may find it less of a headache to accept a lower rent increase than to take their chances with a new and unknown tenant. On the other hand, if the landlord won't budge, it's worth a look around the neighborhood to see if there are more appealing options for you as a renter. 

"In theory, the non-stabilized rental market should be self-regulating and competitive, so you might be able to get a better deal as a new tenant in a different rental community," Roberts says. 


Trouble at home? Get your NYC apartment-dweller questions answered by an expert. Send your questions to [email protected].

For more Ask an Expert questions and answers, click here.

 

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.
topics: