The Rules of Engagement: How to Negotiate With Prospective Tenants

by Chris on July 3, 2011

Ever walked away with a signed lease feeling you gave away too much to your new tenant?

Negotiating with prospective tenants can be a challenge, but experts offer some strategies that keep you in the driver’s seat:

1. Gaining the Advantage
By choosing where the negotiation will take place, you can position yourself for power and confidence. If you are most comfortable behind your desk, scheduling the interview in your office could give you an edge.

Similarly, some people find that holding props– like a clipboard, makes them feel more confident. Bringing along another person also can shift the power your direction.

2. Setting Limits
Minimize the number of issues to be negotiated.

Carefully prequalify applicants to set the stage for a quick, easy negotiation.

Make a list of your nonnegotiable items, whether it’s the amount of rent, the term of the lease–anything you won’t budge on. Then, only meet with candidates who have agreed to those terms.

Also, review your rental policies, like no-pets or no-smoking, with the applicant ahead of time. If the applicant agrees to meet, chances are they will accept your terms.

3. Anticipate Objections
Give some thought to what the tenant will try to negotiate. Typically, it’s the rent, the deposit, or the pets. Maybe they’ll want a shorter or longer lease term, or a different move-in day.

Prepare your answers to those questions ahead of time. For example, if you won’t budge on the rent, offer a list of comparable apartments, or explain your low vacancy rate. That leaves little room for argument.

4. Watch the Clock
Don’t allow the negotiations to go around and around in circles. If the applicant has a recurring objection, read between the lines. For instance, if the conversation keeps going back to the amount of rent, and you are confident the unit is priced appropriately, you have to wonder if the applicant is telling the truth about being able to afford it.

Keep the conversation brief and if it isn’t getting anywhere, keep looking for a more suitable applicant.

5. Stay Calm, Cool and Collected
Never let your emotions show during a negotiation. Don’t take any of it personally, or become frustrated over the number of questions the applicant may have. Some people can’t order a meal without a litany of questions, and an apartment is a much bigger commitment.

The fact that the applicant is asking a lot of questions can be a good sign that they are taking your policies seriously.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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