Should You Ask Your Landlord to Lower Your Rent?

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Photo: istockphoto

Rents are starting to drop all over the city — they're down 2.6 percent from last quarter, Reuters reports today, and as much as 15 percent in some neighborhoods, Sofia Kim of Streeteasy.com, tells us. This is great news for apartment-hunters, but what if you're currently renting? Can you renegotiate? The dudes over at Clusterstock think so. "Anecdotally, we've heard stories of NYC landlord[s] preemptively giving their tenants rent cuts of 10% or more," Joe Weisenthal wrote the other day. Us too! Peter, an assistant account executive we know, got $100 knocked off his monthly nut starting in April just by asking. "I just went and knocked on [my landlord's] door and said, 'Hey, it's tough economic times,'" he says.

"I'd negotiate," says Sofia Kim, of Streeteasy. "Landlords are much more amenable. They want to keep the tenants that they have, and they're having difficulty filling the vacancies that they do have."

For our friend Peter, it helped that his landlord was his neighbor in a three-unit house. "Not that we're good friends, but she knows our names and what we do for a living and she knows we're struggling. The fact that we had somewhat of a relationship made her more willing to negotiate."

But it's safe to say that this is a trend most larger-size New York landlords would prefer didn't catch on. Representatives for large leasing firms were either unavailable or didn't return our calls and e-mails when we got in touch to ask them if they'd be willing, if asked nicely, to lower their current clients' rents. When we finally caught up with one woman, a part-owner of a handful of buildings who asked to remain anonymous, she outright dismissed the idea.

"There's not a chance in hell," she said. "You don't ask the grocery guy to give you the bread for less. I can't worry about everybody. We have to meet expenses."