Renewing your lease? Here's how to negotiate fair rent

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the cost of rent, both here in Georgia and nationwide. Rental rates across the country have jumped — the average cost for a Georgia apartment has gone up 16% nationwide just since January.

But a smart tenant should still try to negotiate with a landlord when it comes time for lease renewal.

FOX 5 Atlanta real estate expert John Adams said, in any rental rate negotiation, the tenant is always at a disadvantage.  

In most states, there are no limits on how much the rent can be raised. The landlord is free to set the rent as they choose, just as the tenant is free to live wherever they choose.


Even so, a smart tenant will do their best to portray themselves in a favorable light, and hopefully the landlord will recognize that losing a valuable resident is an expensive endeavor.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Ask the landlord if the rental rate is open to discussion. This lets the landlord know you plan to negotiate.
  • Highlight your value and strengths as a tenant. If you take care of the property and pay your rent on time, remind the landlord that you are a valuable asset.
  • Inquire about a longer-term lease. Landlords much prefer leases of 24 or 36 months.  If you can, use that to your advantage.
  • Offer to end the lease in May or June. Rental activity doubles in early summer, making it easier on the landlord.

Research the property's value. Cite similar units that are available nearby, but be prepared to move there.

Be open to compromise. Offer to do something the landlord wants in exchange for a break on the proposed rent. It might very well work.

Negotiate directly, ideally fact-to-face with the decision-maker. Then follow up and confirm the agreement in writing. 

Have a backup plan and be prepared to move. Remember that there is no such thing as the last rental property.

Here's the bottom line: If you honestly feel the owner or landlord is asking too much for the rental you want, tell them why you have taken that position. Asking for a break in a pleasant manner might save you some money.  

Atlanta native John Adams has been a real estate broker and investor in residential real estate for the past four decades and has seen the market go up and the market come down.  He hosts "The Real Estate Coffee Break" every Saturday at 11 a.m. online at, where you will find free special reports on BUYING A HOME and SELLING A HOME. John believes that, for most Americans, the best investment they will ever make is their own home.