Ask LH: Can We Negotiate Lower Rent?

Dear Lifehacker, My wife and I are about to move to a new town and there appear to be a number of rental properties available. Can we negotiate for a lower figure than the advertised rent? Or would we just be asking for a large increase in rent once the initial lease finishes? Thanks, Rent Researcher

Rental picture from Shutterstock

Dear RR,

At Lifehacker, we're great believers in the principle "You won't know if you don't ask". In this particular case, I wouldn't be worried about whether you'll be in for a rent increase further down the line — what I'd be worried about is whether you're going to get the property in the first place.

The general consensus at the moment is that when it comes to renting, it's an owner's market — there aren't enough properties to go around, so property owners can charge higher rents and get away with it. That does vary depending on the location, but you won't be able to tell from a handful of ads in a single week just how strong demand is. And you won't know for sure just how many people are trying to rent in your market until you actively start applying for properties.

If every property you visit has a lengthy queue of candidates and people start offering to sign a contract two minutes after you walk in for a scheduled inspection, the odds of your negotiating a decrease are low. Why would the owner deliberately short change themselves when demand is strong?

If the scene seems less frenzied, you may be able to suggest to the agent (or the owner) that you like the property but can't really afford quite that amount. You're no worse off in that case if they say no.

Your negotiating position is actually stronger once you're renting the property. If the owner tries to slug you with a big increase and you move out, they'll be faced with all the costs of re-letting the property (advertising, legals, cleaning), and will potentially face a period where there's no rent coming in at all. An existing renter is also a known quantity, which will persuade some owners to keep any rises reasonable.

Again, though, demand is the key. If there's a shortage of properties, pricing goes up. So you can ask, but it may not get you anywhere. Good luck!

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    I have a few investment properties. And I have had tennants try an "offer"a lower lease figure. At the end of the day each property owes me money . If 2 people make an offer of a lower figure and a 3rd offers to pay more - guess who gets the property ? The rental return is set by the market - not the landlord, I simply need to have tennants, not vacant homes and as odd as it sounds I have years I loose money and some I make it.

    Bottom line is if you tennant set the market rate.

      What's a tennant? I find it odd that someone who can't even spell makes money out of others' hard work. Who gives a damn what you need!? You speak as if you have a massive sense of entitlement. Where is your Social Responsibility?

    I am an investor as well and own only one property. I would say that @justme and the author is spot on. The market denotes the price. it varies by a few dollar depending on the owner. my finance + rent income is still out of pocket. It would be hard for a landlord to reduce the rent in these type of circumstances. But I kept mine 5$p/w lower than market price because i got good clean and tidy tenants and willing to stay long term. if you can prove to be a good tenant, you might be in some chance of neg. Good luck.. no harm trying.. but your chance are very limited.

      Yeah, like pets...good, clean and tidy... Holier than Thou!

    ....renting from a landlord who can't spell tenant. I don't think so.

    we are landlords, and have often accepted lower rent every day the place is empty it is costing me money and not making income. However the flip side is if you end up homeless because you can't secure a rental or keep trying and end up accepting a rental at the last minute that is a bit higher end then it is also your issue.

    We've been renting in the same place for about five years now (I was 19 when I moved in!) and when the landlord requested a rent increase, we negotiated down to around half way. I am sure that if we moved out he would make a lot more, but I guess we're a safe bet!

    Haha yeah, good opening statement in the article. The only valid response should be "I don't know.. Can you?"

      Memories of dick teachers came flooding back. "Yes, you can but you may not."

      Gah

    depends a lot on where you're looking really. If you're in Sydney? Fat chance. I once went to a rental apartment's open house and there were 24 different groups of people and close to 50 people total taking a look. I put in a form offering $10 above what they were asking for and they didn't even have the courtesy to tell me my offer was knocked back. Likely because there were other people offering even more.

    If you are moving to Canberra it is the opposite situation at the moment and you stand a good chance of getting a deal if you have the time and patience for it.

    You need to avoid getting your heart set on one particular place and instead have a common list of things you are looking for in a property, and if you don't get the price you want on a place simply move on to the next one.

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