I have no experience with negotiating rental prices but I think everything is negotiable. I’m not sure how much time you have but you might sign up for the Capitol Hill yahoo listserve and ask about people renting apartments. Some people prefer not to go through Craigslist and you might find a gem. You could also try contacting Yarmouth Management – for Capitol Hill rentals. The Hill would be a good commute to the courts – either on metro, bus, or (depending on where) a nice walk. It’s also a great neighborhood (I’m biased because I live there!).