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On the Hunt: Room for Negotiation (and Hey, We Signed a Lease For Our New Apartment)

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At this very moment, Curbed's very own Abby Pontzer is on the hunt for an apartment in San Francisco. As any current apartment-seeking SFian knows, it's more difficult than ever to score a lease in the city right now. We're giving her a space here on Curbed to share her stories of hope, failure and useful information to help guide you along the path of San Francisco's rental scene. Have a hot tip or question for Abby? Feel free to drop her a line.

[Image via Shutterstock]

Today we are going to talk about negotiation. Yes, there are actually things for which you can negotiate! I promise!

In this rental market, it's hard to negotiate the price of your rental. I'll leave it at that. Few landlords will let you pay less money when there are qualified applicants who will pay top dollar. But there are a few things you might be able to try to change to your advantage.

Move in date. I wanted to avoid the dreaded double rent so while I could technically move in earlier if I needed to, I pushed for a later lease date. Private owners may be more concerned with getting you to move in ASAP, whereas rental companies are less likely to care as they make their money when you sign the lease, not when you move in.

Pets. I saw this scenario in a rental office: young women asks about cats in a particular rental. Property manager says no. She goes on and on about how small the cats are (I pipe in with "they're practically stuffed!" I'm not sure that helped). Property manager calls owner, permission granted for her cats. Easy as that. Bottom line: you can always ask. Pestering helps.

Repairs. See something that needs to be fixed or something you want changed? Maybe the previous tenant left the unit a very strange orange sponge paint (true story). Ask to have it fixed -- preferably to something you pick out -- before move in day. If they won't fix it, maybe they will split the cost with you to do so. Anything is better than living with orange sponge paint. Anything.

Deposit. Some people balk at the idea of giving over thousands of dollars for the landlord to just "keep," especially if they have a great rental history. While you probably can't get away from any deposit, I've heard success from those willing to pay several months of rent in advance for a much smaller deposit.

And now for the happy ending! We are moving next week to a one bedroom apartment on 20th and Church, right by Dolores Park! Of course it has all of our dealbreakers, but it also has views of downtown and a storage locker. We did have to compromise -- there is a lot of carpet and I'll still be doing dishes by hand -- but we couldn't be more excited and it really feels like home. One lingering question: on 20th, between Church and Sanchez --- what's the neighborhood? Mission? Castro? Noe? According to Burrito Justice it's the Mastro, so I'll go with that for now. Just kidding! I'll probably just say, "I live by the park." Like a boss.

Any other lingering tips for would-be renters? Success stories of your own? Best of luck, dear readers, may your lease signing be soon and painless!
· On the Hunt: How To Prepare Yourself For the Perfect Rental [CurbedSF]
· On The Hunt: How to Organize your Rental Search and Avoid Information Overload [CurbedSF]
· On The Hunt: Applications that Move You the Front [CurbedSF]
· On The Hunt: Open Your House to Me [CurbedSF]