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7 Tips for Negotiating Cheaper Rent

negotiating rent

Did you know that it is possible to negotiate for a rent reduction in your current place or even when moving to a new house?

The pandemic has left both landlords and tenants unsettled. We’ve seen several landlords drop their rental prices by 20%. Even with the uncertainty, more people have bought houses in the hopes of securing their future.

People are moving to cheaper locations like Ngong, Ruiru, Kitengela and Rongai to find affordable housing. All these factors have left many vacant houses in different parts of the city.

How can you use this information as a tenant and negotiate for a rent reduction?  

Here are tips on how to ask for a rent reduction from your landlord to avoid paying your rent late.

1. Be Open About Your Intentions

Renters are often faced with the dilemma of either paying higher rent or finding a new place to live. The former is preferable, but not for landlords who want to maximize their profit.

If you have your eye on a particular property and know that there are other renters interested in it, be open about your intentions when negotiating with the landlord.

Doing so will allow you to get close to what you want without scaring off the competition.

2. Have Proof Previous Payments

The same way you need the landlord is the same way they need you.

With housing prices constantly changing, landlords need their properties occupied otherwise they will be left with vacant houses.

That being said, landlords have the right to pick who they rent their properties to. They can afford to be picky because there is such a high demand for affordable units, which means you will need all the help you can get to negotiate for a lower rent price. 

One way of doing this is by having proof of making payments on time. If you have proof that you haven’t defaulted on your payments, then your bargaining power will go up significantly.

3. Have a Reason for the Ask

tenants negotiating with landlord for lower rent

When negotiating for a lower rent price, it’s important to have a specific, well-reasoned reason. Don’t expect your landlord will give in just because they like you; instead, make a strong case for why you need a rent reduction.

Some good reasons to ask for a lower rent price include:

You’ve been a good tenant and have never missed a payment

  • The property has needed significant repairs or updates that the landlord has not addressed
  • The surrounding area has seen declining property values or increased competition from new developments
  • Your property taxes have gone up significantly
  • You are considering going back home
  • You can’t find cheaper properties in the area you are renting

When giving your reason, stress the positive aspects of your tenancy. Also, how a proposed price reduction will benefit the landlord. Link your rent reduction to something you know they want, such as increased tenancy and better property value.

A smart approach with a well-reasoned argument will be more effective. You can’t ask without explaining why you believe this is a good decision for both you and the landlord.

Do not:

  • Demand a rent reduction
  • Forcefully argue that you pay rent on time
  • Offer cash or set up an alternate payment plan that is not under the discretion of your landlord.
  • Make false promises; if you can’t deliver, don’t offer
  • Use guilt to receive the reduction; the landlord is not responsible for your financial burdens
  • Use your personal life (children, marriage, divorce) as an excuse

It can be awkward and embarrassing asking someone why you want something. But if there’s no good reason, then it makes sense not to ask at all.

4. Do Your Research

This means looking up comparable rental properties in the area and what kinds of prices they are being rented for. Then, work with your landlord to determine if you can move to a different floor or unit with lower rent.

If you have lived at your current property for a long time, have always paid on time, in full, and it’s in good condition, then your landlord may be happy to accommodate.

We have all heard of the stories about landlords just kicking people out because they want higher rent or offer more to move in.

Make sure that this will not happen by looking up comparable rental properties in the area, what kinds of prices they are being rented for, and speaking to these tenants.

5. Take Someone Else With You

You are more likely to get a rent reduction from the landlord if you go with someone who stays in the same block as you do.

Of course, many landlords are willing to lower the rent regardless of whether or not you have someone with you.

You should also note that bringing somebody else doesn’t necessarily mean that the person will need to talk on your behalf or argue against your landlord.

Instead, it can simply be a friend who is there as moral support and provides an extra set of ears for potential negotiation tactics.

6. Establish Trust

tenants speaking to landlord

When you’re going to negotiate for a rent reduction, one of the most important things they need to keep in mind is trust.

Renting can be a tricky business, and it’s important that both the renter and the landlord are able to trust each other.

If you establish trust with your landlord, it will make negotiations much easier and more likely to succeed.

Establishing trust can happen on both sides, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give more rights during negotiations.

Here are four tips on how to do just that.

  • Get to know your landlord. The more you understand the person’s motivations and goals, the better you will be able to negotiate with them in a way that doesn’t make them resentful.
  • Protect your reputation with your landlord. If word gets around that you’re someone who is hard to get along with, your landlord will be less likely to negotiate with you. Some ways to build trust that will help you in the future include being a good neighbour, paying your rent on time, and repairing any damage you cause.
  • Try not to ask for too much. There’s nothing wrong with stating how much you can afford. But if you’re only looking out for yourself when doing this, you’re much more likely to damage your relationship with your landlord.

Building trust with your landlord is important when negotiating a lower rent. You go into the negotiations knowing a landlord can trust you too.

Does your landlord or a company manage the property where you stay? It is much easier to negotiate for a rent reduction if the landlord owns one or a few rental properties in his name as opposed to the big firm. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask.

Additionally, it would help if you took the time to know more about your landlord by forming a friendship if possible. As time goes by, you will be able to open up about your financial situation and explain to the landlord your financial position.

7. Look Professional and Confident

The best way to negotiate a rent reduction is not to be afraid of asking for it.

This means never being ashamed or embarrassed about the current state of your finances. Instead, go in with an air of competence and confidence.

The more you seem like a person that has their life together, the more likely people are going to want to help you out in return.

Being a confident person or more of a natural-born leader will also give you a greater chance of being able to negotiate your way out of paying higher rent.

If you have an assertive personality and can speak with conviction, people are going to be much more likely to take the things that you say as fact.

This is good because then you’re able to give them factual evidence that you really do need a rent reduction and why.

Rather than coming off as someone who is desperate for any sort of help, try and become the sort of person who would be seen as worthy of receiving the help they are asking for.

Make sure you come prepared for the negotiation. Know your rights as a tenant and what is in your rental agreement.

Know about the rental market and where to get other places to rent. This will show that you know what you are talking about and you have a plan.

Conclusion

It’s not uncommon for tenants to ask for a rent reduction and to feel stressed about the process. 

If you follow these tips, you will be well on your way towards paying less rent than you normally do, because let’s face it…times are hard.

WRITTEN BY
Maureen Mbithe
Content Writer at BuyRentKenya
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