The year 2020 inspired a large-scale movement out of cities and into the suburbs, leaving many city apartments vacant. Now in 2021, apartment vacancy rates are up to 5.1 percent. With such a high percentage of empty apartments, landlords are looking to charm renters back however they can. It is increasingly common for landlords to offer rent concessions. You may have heard this term thrown around before, and the meaning of it can vary. While typically a rent concession is most commonly offered as highly discounted rent or net-effective rent), there are many types of rental discounts or perks.

What is a rent concession?

A rent concession is a discount or incentive that property owners and/or landlords use to entice future renters.. It’s usually a win-win for both landlords and renters, and after all, who doesn’t love a good deal?

Graphic text of rent concession definition, "rent concession, noun, a discount or incentive that property owners and/or landlords use to help future renters."
Types of rent concessions

Rent concessions can appear in many different forms.  Here are a few of them:

  • Reduced rent for the entirety of the lease

  • Merchandise, gift cards, or subscriptions

  • Free, or sometimes prorated rent for the first month

  • Waived fees (such as move in fees, broker fees, pet fees, or maintenance fees)

  • Free or discounted use of on-site amenities (gym, parking, extra storage)

  • Allowing for walls to be painted (or decorated with wallpaper)

How to negotiate rental concessions

Even if a property isn't offering a concession, don’t be afraid to negotiate! The worst that can happen is that they say “no” and you end up paying the original price. When negotiating, remember what is important and useful for you. If the apartment is in a trendy area, getting a free month of rent can save you a significant chunk of money, but if parking is expensive in the neighborhood, then a free parking spot may be worth more.

Image of two renters painting their wall with the text "Rent concession tip: ask for lease terms like the entitlement to paint walls"
Always do your research

Check to see how long the property has been on the market. The longer it’s been on the market, the more eager the property owner will be to fill the apartment and will be more willing to make a concession. Websites like Zillow and Trulia will list how long apartments have been on the market and will estimate their market rate.

Remember that rent concessions are often temporary

Considering that 2020-2021 leases took a big hit due to the pandemic, apartment leases may become more expensive as more people start moving back to cities. Make sure you take normal pricing into consideration when choosing a new lease. Concessions may sweeten the deal in the short term, but if you can’t afford the apartment as it is regularly priced, then it is probably not a great long term solution for you.

Choosing rental concessions

While most renters will opt for a free month or two of rent, cutting costs on other little things can also be a great way to keep costs low. 

To decide on what type of rent concession you want, think about your lifestyle and what type of rent concession can improve your home life. Here are a few examples of rent concessions to consider:

  1. If you work from home often and require high-speed internet, you may be able to negotiate free high-speed internet and perhaps a subscription service like HBOMax or Showtime. 

  2. Commuter? Free parking that’s off the street can save you on car repairs

  3. Laundry and storage matter when it comes to keeping your place tidy

  4. If you’re looking for a long term stay, make the apartment your own by negotiating to repaint the walls

  5. Getting kick-back on amenities and/or utilities also adds up month-after-month

  6. If you’re signing a shorter lease, looking for net-effective rent or a few months rent-free is the right idea 

Image of a renter exiting their car, with the text "Rent concession tip - Negotiate for free or discounted parking that

As you decide what rent concessions you need, don’t forget that using Rhino will always help you save on the apartment of your dreams. Use Rhino to skip the intimidating security deposit fee and opt for manageable security deposit insurance instead. 

Follow us on Instagram and Twitter for more opportunities to keep your wallet slim and trim to keep up that #FinancialFitness grind.

Larenz Brown

Larenz Brown is a copywriter at Rhino who wants to tell stories that empower people. He once engaged in a 365-day staredown with a security deposit and emerged victorious.