I'm renting an apartment in Mountain View, CA. My lease will be up for renewal in about 7-8 weeks. My landlord has not sent me a renewal notice yet, and when I called asking about it I was told that they are doing "market research" and will inform me shortly. Rents have been increasing a lot in recent years in the bay area, and my landlord has a reputation for raising the rent year after year.

There are a couple of empty units in our complex. In general, they seem to be very lazy about getting apartments ready for market, and once someone moves out they seem to take about 1.5 month before they are ready to list it online. They generally take at least a month to be taken which is a bit long for the market. The apartments they are currently listing are listed for $100 less than what I have been paying for the previous year. Does this give me any leverage to get my rent lowered for a renewal? How can I effectively negotiate this? Is there any legal requirement for him to lower my rent to match the other apartments he is offering at the time? Should I wait for him to notify me of the future rent, or should I let him know in advance that I am aware that he is offering other units at a lower price?

The landlord is not very honest and I have been unsuccessful in previous negotiations at the time of my move in. I feel like I need a game plan before I start negotiating. The rent at me complex is slightly lower than average for the area and given the crazy housing situation in the bay area I think this give the landlord the confidence to never budge. BTW, the apartments are also very old and below average compared to the nearby complexes that are slightly more expensive.

P.S. I am aware of this question, mine is difference because my lease is ending soon.

  • More info: I would prefer not to move out yet because rents are higher at this time of the year and I'd get sucked into another bad lease. May 18, 2016 at 23:34
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    Just as an aside: if I knew my landlord was dishonest, I would be keeping my eyes peeled for alternative housing. $100 per month is not very much in comparison to the various ways things can go south with a dishonest landlord.
    – BrenBarn
    May 19, 2016 at 18:45
  • @BrenBarn I am starting to look. There is a huge in-flux of summer interns and college students at the time my lease will be up which causes the rents to go up at this time of the year, so I'm looking to move in winter (when rents are lower). May 19, 2016 at 23:40

3 Answers 3


They're is no legal requirement that all units rent for the same price; in fact a first-year discount to encourage folks to move in is not uncommon.

The game plan is, you ask. But unless you are seriously planning to move unless you get the rent reduction, you have almost no leverage. Remember that it's likely to cost you more to move than that $100 new-tenant discount saves anyone. I think you are likely to get laughed at if you do request a decrease.

The presence of empty units makes it more likely they will raise your rent rather than reduce it; their costs have not gone down but their income has.

Realistically, the best offers I have seen, offered to exceptional tenants, have been to hold their rents constant from year to year rather that increasing them to track inflation.

You're being over optimistic. But they are unlikely to charge you more for asking, if you do so politely and really convince them that you are considering moving out if they raise it.

  • 1
    An additional suggestion is to go into the discussion armed with actual numbers. Look at comparable apartments, including amenities and travel time to work, and the rents they are charging. Print out a couple of the best examples to have on hand. This both proves you are serious and gives concrete numbers to guide the discussion.
    – KeithB
    May 19, 2016 at 16:14
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    +1 especially for the second paragraph. To negotiate, you need to have something you can offer, namely your tenancy. If you're definitely not willing to move out, the landlord has no reason not to squeeze you for every penny he can get (except his general human kindness, which it sounds like he may not have much of).
    – BrenBarn
    May 19, 2016 at 18:44
  • Sounds like a good idea to be armed with concrete numbers when I go to negotiate. I probably would not move out at this time, but if I can't get a good deal I will probably opt to go month-to-month and move out late fall/early winter when the rates for down around here. May 19, 2016 at 23:36
  • That's assuming they will let you go month-to-month without adding a surcharge for the inconvenience of possibly having to find another tenant in a hurry... Frankly, if that's your plan you might want to start with that request, explaining that you expect a yearly price drop that will make moving worth the effort -- while they aren't yet laughing at you --and let them reply with a price offer if they want to keep you. The other way around would make me less likely to cooperate, were I the landlord...
    – keshlam
    May 20, 2016 at 0:53
  • > The presence of empty units makes it more likely they will raise your rent rather than reduce it; their costs have not gone down but their income has. That's not how economics work. The price of the empty units should reduce to be filled, and the existing prices shouldn't change as there's an externalized cost of moving.
    – user26035
    Dec 12, 2019 at 18:01

I would say you're really without options. You really don't have a leg to "negotiate". The fact that the landlord has empty units means he's not afraid of going vacant.

He also knows that even if you find a comparable property at slightly lower rent, it's may not be worth it to you considering the cost and hassle to move.

It's only illegal to charge different rents if you can somehow prove federally prohibited discrimination.

Your best bet is to go with the nice guy approach. Be such a nice guy that the landlord is willing to cut you some slack.

  • I kept my tent constant for 7 years by being a good tenant --always paid on time, was willing to supervise tradesmen when repairs were needed, helped him with a few repairs he did on his own (including solving one plumbing problem for him), being a single quiet professional in an apartment h
    – keshlam
    May 19, 2016 at 19:31

The earlier you start negotiating, the more time you’ll have to persuade your landlord not to increase the rent. You can point out your qualities as tenant. If you’re a responsible renter, who takes care of the place and reliably sends in the rent check, you’re in a good position to negotiate. It’s very difficult to find a good tenant. Landlord need to go through all this complicated process of tenant screening.

As I understand you’re not very satisfied with your current rental. So, if you’re fail to negotiate the price, I recommend you to start looking for a new rental.

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