5 Ways to negotiate your rent

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The pandemic hit the world hard and the COVID-19 virus sees no signs of petering out just yet.  Everyone has been affected one way or another, as we all re-adjust to a different way of living and working. During the peak of the pandemic in Australia, many people gave up their leases, were evicted, or requested a rent freeze. However, as we emerge from the pandemic and the economy cautiously bounces back in the shadow of second and third waves, there may be further opportunities to negotiate your rent.

Have an open conversation

If you send an email out of the blue demanding a rental discount you are likely to do two things. Firstly, ruin the relationship you have with your landlord. Secondly, erode any change you may have of getting a reduced rental agreement. At worst, you may end up having to move out. The best way to negotiate your rent is to start with an open and casual conversation. Remember that everyone is in the same boat with bills to pay and this is not a time to take advantage, however, it is an opportune time to pay a fair rate compared to the current market.

Lock in a long-term lease

Are you currently on a 6-month lease or out of contract? Landlords are also looking for financial security, and the last thing they want is for tenants to call in the removalists. Are you happy where you are? Then offer to lock in a longer contract in lieu of a discounted rental rate. Double-check that your notice terms remain the same and both parties can rest easy for the next 12 or 24 months knowing the rent will be paid and that the building will be occupied over this period.

Present a case and do your research

There is no point requesting hundreds of dollars in rent reduction a month as that would simply be unattainable.  What you can do is present current rental rates for similar properties in your area.  If they are $50 or $60 a week cheaper, it’s highly likely your landlord may match this rate or meet you halfway.  If you are in full employment and had budgeted at a higher rate, then meeting in the middle is still a win. It also helps to keep a good relationship with your landlord. You can also offer to improve the home in some way in lieu of rent reduction. Paint a bedroom or replace kitchen cupboard doors for example as a gesture of goodwill and commitment to stay in the residence.

Consider other wins besides a dollar figure

You may have an open conversation with your landlord and realise that a rent reduction is not on the cards. However, there are other wins to be had.  Could your landlord throw in an extra car parking spot for free? Or, maybe they would consider buying some outdoor garden furniture or BBQ for the shared courtyard? They may even re-paint the walls or replace the carpet to encourage you to continue to rent at the same rate.

Confirm everything in writing

Before you crack open the bubbles and celebrate some rent relief get confirmation. Request confirmation of the new agreement in writing, or better still in a new rental agreement which both parties sign off on.  This confirms that both parties have the same understanding moving forward and avoids disputes down the line.

If you go in with an open mind, you are likely to come out with a win. It may not be cold hard cash relief, but you can gain in some capacity without ruining the landlord/renter relationship when it comes to negotiate your rent.