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Renew your lease and get a free TV

If your landlord doesn't offer you a deal to stay, ask for one.

By Teresa Mears Nov 2, 2009 1:54PM

If the lease on your rented house or apartment is up soon, you may get a little gift from your landlord: a flat-screen TV, lower rent or even a cash payment.


Because of the soft rental market, landlords are offering incentives to renters who renew their leases, The Wall Street Journal reports.


For example, UDR, a Denver-based rental company, is offering tenants who renew their leases a choice of a flat-screen TV, new carpet, a kitchen upgrade or $300 in cash. Cash is the most popular choice.


From the landlords’ perspective, $300, a new paint job or even a new TV is far cheaper than the cost of finding another tenant, especially if the landlords have to pay broker commissions or if the apartment sits vacant for several months. And it might. The national apartment-vacancy rate was at its highest in 23 years, 7.8%, in the third quarter of 2009, The WSJ reported, citing statistics by Reis Inc.


If you’re a good tenant, this means you’re in a position to bargain when your lease comes up for renewal. If your landlord doesn’t offer you an incentive to stay, ask for one.

Landlords and management companies are offering discounts and bonuses to new tenants, and there’s no reason you can’t ask them to match those incentives when it comes time to renew. Before your lease is up, find out what new tenants in your building are paying and whether they received any incentives or bonuses. Check Craigslist to find out the asking prices of similar rental units. Several months before your lease is up for renewal, ask your landlord for a deal.


Jonathan, at My Money Blog, offers several tips for negotiating a new lease with your existing landlord, including reminding the landlord about what makes you a good tenant: You pay on time, you don’t complain, etc.


You can also provide some statistics about the local market to bolster your case for a rent reduction. Rentbits, for example, will show you a chart of average rental rates for the last year. Just put in your city. Rents in Miami, for example, have declined quite a bit in the last year, which means a deal is likely.


Xin Lu at Wise Bread and her husband got $75 a month off their rent after writing a letter to their landlord when their lease was up for renewal.


Both Jonathan and Xin Lu got some helpful advice from Mary Pilon, of the WSJ’s The Wallet blog. She shared the letter to her apartment management company that garnered her a $300-a-month reduction in rent when the company had initially asked for a $100-a-month increase. The letter noted conditions in her current market and also pointed out that new tenants were paying not only less than the proposed new rent, but less than her current rent.


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