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With vacancy rates below 1%, is it possible to negotiate the price of rent in Ada County?

Local renters currently have little bargaining power. However, there are options for tenants who wish to negotiate lease terms.

BOISE, Idaho — Only 1% of Ada and Canyon County rental units are considered vacant and available to rent, according to housing assistance non-profit Jesse Tree.

This naturally drives up the cost of a rental due to basic supply and demand; moreover, tenants are left with little room to negotiate the terms of their lease.

"Our case management team has tried to negotiate on behalf of the tenants we're serving and have had little luck," Jesse Tree Executive Director Ali Rabe said.

However, some people in Boise had the opposite experience.

Amid a housing crisis, Shane Mulhern is in no hurry to leave his apartment - but his property manager sent a lease renewal notice in early July. The property manager wanted increase his rent by 15%.

"It was relatively high, but again, the housing market is kinda crazy here. So it wasn't shocking," Mulhern said.

However, the bottom of the notice stated Mulhern could submit a counteroffer. It is not normal for an apartment complex to open the door for a negotiation, according to Rabe.

Mulhern took full advantage.

"We didn't wanna come back with a low-ball offer and seem rude and ungrateful. We like where we live. They've always been nice to us," Mulhern said.

After researching similar units in the area and considering the current inflation rate, Mulhern decided a 7% increase would be fair. The property manager accepted his offer.

Tenants typically don't have room to negotiate considering many applicants are waiting in the wings to fill any vacancy. Both Rabe and Mulhern attribute his success to a strong relationship with the property manager.

"Most landlords or rental companies don't want to bring in someone new. They know you, and know you take care of the place I think there is not harm in opening up that conversation," Mulhern said.

Most often, the tenant will have to open the conversation of a negotiation. In this case, Mulhern recommends a calm, professional, and courteous approach.

While tenants don't have much leverage, the success of a negotiation is often built before the conversation even starts.

"Be a good communicator," Rabe said. "I encourage them to go to their landlord, in person if possible. Face-to-face is always better. Try and talk though the situation. Explain to the landlord what's possible for their budget, why they wanna stay in the unit, and why they're gonna be a good tenant."

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