I Saved $1,200 on NYC Rent by Negotiating With My Landlord

Estimated read time 8 min read

Though I write about the housing market and mortgages for a living, I’m a Gen Zer renting my first New York City apartment. I’m also new to the workforce and living in a Brooklyn neighborhood where the median rent is above $4,000. 

Housing is unaffordable right now, for both renters and buyers. Personal finance experts often recommend that you avoid spending more than 30% of your pretax income on housing. But that’s usually out of our control. And when you don’t live in a rent-stabilized property in NYC, your housing expenses could increase hundreds of dollars with each lease renewal. 

I learned that the hard way. 

When our lease was up in April, my roommate and I saw that our landlord was proposing a 4.5% annual increase, raising our rent by $200 a month, and costing us each an additional $1,200 over the next year. 

We could’ve easily accepted the increase, but all it took was a bit of research, a well-written email and a quick phone call to get our landlord to budge.

My easy strategy for negotiating rent 

Since our apartment doesn’t have rent-stabilized protections, there’s no legal limit on how much our landlord can increase our rent. Still, the proposed 4.5% bump was much higher than we expected. 

I knew we’d be leaving money on the table if we didn’t at least try to negotiate. Landlords can often appear superhuman, impervious to normal business haggling. But that’s not always true. Here’s what we did to negotiate our rent.

I did research on average rent increases

I started by researching how much average rents had increased in our Brooklyn neighborhood over the last year. I found that average rental prices went up by less than 3% during that time, giving us pretty good leverage to negotiate. I also noted in my email that a 4.5% increase was above the current pace of inflation, which was at 3.4%.

I built my case as a responsible tenant

In many cases, it’s more convenient for a landlord to renew a lease with a responsible tenant than to deal with a vacancy. My roommate and I always pay our rent on time and in full. We alert management to any issues, like a leaking faucet, to prevent further damage or costs to the building. So we had that going for us. 

I figured it was also worth noting recent issues with the apartment. For instance, last fall, there was some pretty major flooding in our bathroom. We’d been disappointed by how long it took the building super to reply to our requests and follow through on the repairs. 

I was prepared to make concessions 

I knew we wouldn’t be able to avoid a rent increase entirely. So I suggested an increase that I felt was in line with the local rental market, the pace of inflation and our reliable rental history.

Instead of 4.5%, I proposed a 2% increase as our starting point. That left us with some wiggle room in our budgets in case our landlord came back with a higher number.

I wrote a professional email 

After we sent the email, the building’s management took about a week to respond. They asked if we could hop on a brief phone call to discuss the terms of our renewal. Our landlord offered an increase of just above 2%, meaning our rent would be going up only $100 a month as opposed to $200. 

AI can help you negotiate with your landlord


We didn’t use AI to draft the email to our landlord, but in hindsight, we definitely could have.


When putting together this article, I decided to give Gemini, Google’s AI service, a prompt to see if it could help someone write an email to negotiate rent. The result wasn’t too different from the actual email my roommate and I sent.


Here’s something you can use as a template to negotiate with your landlord if you’re in a similar situation.


Dear [landlord name], 


I hope this email finds you well. 


I am writing to you regarding the upcoming lease renewal for my apartment [your apartment number]. I have been a resident here for [number] years and have always enjoyed living in the building. 


I received the notice of the proposed rent increase to [new rent amount]. Though I understand that rent increases are sometimes necessary, I was hoping we could discuss the possibility of a lower adjustment.


Here are a few reasons for my request:


[State your reason(s) for the negotiation. Here are some options:]

  • Market research: I have researched comparable apartments in the area and found that the average rent for similar units is [average rent amount].
  • Good tenant history: Throughout my tenancy, I have consistently paid rent on time and in full, taken good care of the apartment, and maintained a positive relationship with you and other residents.
  • Financial hardship: [optional — if applicable, you can briefly explain any financial hardship that makes the increase difficult]
  • Alternative: [optional] I would be happy to sign a longer lease term of [number] years in exchange for a smaller rent increase.


I am committed to staying here at [apartment complex name] and believe that a mutually beneficial agreement can be reached. I am open to discussing different options. Thank you for your time and consideration. Please let me know your availability to discuss this further.





You’ll still need to fill in some details, like information about your specific rental market as well as your experience as a tenant. But it’s a great starting point, especially if writing and sending emails gives you anxiety.

A little self-advocacy can go a long way

The rising cost of living —  for housing, medical expenses and other essentials — isn’t something we can control. But there are small measures we can take to save money and make informed financial decisions that benefit us in the long run.

You’re allowed to ask questions about the bills you receive and advocate for yourself. It won’t eliminate high costs altogether, but it could help you keep more money in your pocket.  

Here are some other costs that are worth negotiating: 

Medical bills and health care costs

You can contact your health care provider, insurer or hospital to negotiate medical costs. Your provider may lower your bill, offer a payment plan or provide financial assistance if you’re a low-income patient or uninsured. Always carefully review your medical bills and look for mistakes, and if you have any questions about the charges, ask your provider. 

Credit card fees and interest

You may be able to get a better interest rate or reduced fees by simply calling your credit card issuer. Before you hop on the phone, though, be sure to research your account’s history and terms, in addition to competing credit card offers, so you can make a strong argument. 

Cable, internet and phone 

Cable, internet and phone providers often lure you in with a low introductory rate. But after a year, your price goes up. You can either contact your provider to see if it has any deals available, or mention you’re considering canceling your service. Your provider would rather keep you as a customer for a lower price than lose your business altogether. 

In my opinion, self-advocacy is an underrated personal finance tool. By speaking up for myself, I avoided spending an extra $1,200 this year. And I won’t be afraid to do it again when my internet provider’s promotional offer expires this summer.

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