Tips to Negotiate a Sublease: Five Steps


A sublease is when the tenant of a leased property further rents out the place to another person (the subtenant). There are three parties involved in a sublease i.e. the landlord, the tenant/sublessor, and the subtenant.

The tenant will want to make the best out of the situation and charge you enough rent to earn maximum profit. You may get exploited by being charged a rent more than the usual market rate in the area.

This is where negotiation comes in. You need to be prepared for the amount the landlord will charge and find a middle ground to settle at a reasonable rental.

Is It Necessary To Negotiate?

It’s true, negotiating can be an uncomfortable situation for both parties, and we understand why you might not want to do it.

However, even if you manage to get a small reduction in your rental, you can save hundreds of dollars over a year. For example, you will be saving $600 over a year if your sublessor agrees to reduce the monthly rental even by $50.

Here is how you can achieve this goal by crisply negotiating with your sublessor:

1) Go Prepared:

Depending on where you’re moving, figure out the average rental price in that area, neighborhood, and city.

You need to know exactly the amount you want to settle at so that you can negotiate easily. Compare the apartment or house you’re moving into to other apartments and houses in the city on websites like Craigslist and Zillow.

2) Know What You Want:

You don’t always negotiate for a price reduction. Since you’re moving into a new place, there can be several features you might need negotiation for. For example:

  • A reduction in utilities
  • Free parking space
  • Allowing for your pet to move in with you
  • Amount and terms of security deposit
  • Free garage or storage space
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If you know what you want, it will be easier for you to explain your needs and why it’s important to you. The sublessor is always willing to meet you halfway, so you need to know how to make your move.

3) What Are You Willing To Offer?

You can’t obviously just go to your sublessor and expect a cut in your rental payment for nothing. Negotiation allows you to meet at a middle ground where both people compromise on something they want to reach the final agreement.

You should evaluate what your sublessor wants. How can you offer him benefits?

  • If possible, you could propose to make advance rental payments in aggregate for several months to the sublessor. Every sublessor wants to be free from the worry of chasing after late rentals, and hence, may agree to give you a monthly discount on your rent for such offer.
  • Moving in and out of the leased property is a headache for both the subtenant and the sublessor. The sublessor may agree to a reduction in the rentals if you plan to live there longer than the lease term, and offer to sign the lease for a longer period.
  • You could also give up the parking space if you don’t have a car. The sublessor will provide it to another subtenant while offering you a discount.
  • Sublessor would also be willing to give you a discount if you promise to save him cleaning expenses by not smoking or keeping pets.

4) Timing Matters:

If you’re looking for a place during the moving period, and the sublessor has several applicants to offer the place to, you might not get the best out of the situation. The sublessor will have the upper hand and will move on to the next applicant instead of negotiating with you.

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The best time to negotiate your rent, if you’re negotiating a new lease, is winters. Due to the snow and ice everywhere, sublessors have fewer people knocking down their doors for an apartment or house, leaving the sublessor no chance but to agree.

Similarly, if you’re an existing subtenant, you need to have a good relationship with your sublessor to negotiate. The best time to negotiate would be a few months prior to the lease expiration.

Since you’re not desperate for a place yet and can look around, you will have the upper hand. The sublessor will prefer to have you stay than to deal with you moving out.

5) Other Tips:

Make sure to carry all your documents to make your case while bargaining including your credit score, references, rent payment records, etc.

Negotiating in person is much better than on phone or email.

Only have realistic expectations and aims, and be respectful of your sublessor.

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