5 steps to negotiate lower rent


When you’re looking for a new place to rent you might be under the misapprehension that the listing rental price is set in stone. The same goes for when the time comes to renew your lease.

If you go into rental discussions with your landlord well prepared and confident you can end up negotiating your way into a great deal.

Here are five steps to help you increase your chances of walking away from your rental negotiation with a favourable result.

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1. Do your homework.

Firstly, research the rental market in your area of interest to determine whether your request for lower rent is reasonable or not. Start by looking at similar listings on Homely to figure out the average rental cost in your desired neighbourhood. You can also talk to local real estate agents to gain a better understanding of the demand for and cost of rentals in your area. It is also smart to attend open for inspections to talk to residents that live in the building or street you're interested in about the cost of rent and availability.

2. Get the timing right.

If you get this right you'll have the upper hand in your negotiation. If you’re looking at a new rental property it is wise to approach your potential landlord towards the end of the month to negotiate. At this point it is likely the property has been vacant for a while and they may be having trouble finding new tenants. The landlord may be more open to agreeing to lower rent payments rather than leaving the place empty for another month.

If you want to negotiate lower rent before your lease comes up for renewal, mention this to your landlord ahead of time (a month or so prior to the renewal date). This way they'll know you have enough time to find another rental if they aren’t open to negotiating.  

3. Sell yourself.

These days good tenants are few and far between, so if your landlord has a good thing going with you remind them of the benefits of having you as a tenant. It costs your landlord time and money (on advertising, cleaning and interviewing candidates) every time they move tenants in and out. If they want to minimise their expenses and hassle and you’re a great tenant, then they may be willing to lower the cost of rent to keep you around.   

Also if you’re planning on staying in the same rental property for a few years let your landlord know. This is a huge positive for them as it offers them assured rental income for years to come. They may be more open to pushing the rent down in exchange for your reliability as a long term tenant.

If you’re in discussions for a new place to rent have evidence at the ready to prove to your potential landlord that you have a solid track record as a wonderful tenant. Landlords want security and predictability in tenants. Show them your rental history, your good credit score, references from previous landlords, your history of paying on time, that you have a steady income, and reassure them you’re responsible and respectful of others. There are a number of great services out there, such as CV check, that can review your tenancy application and help to make yours stand out from the crowd. Use whatever it takes to prove to you potential landlord you’re a model tenant.

4. Be open minded.

When negotiating remember that the other person you’re talking to has needs as well. Be as open minded and willing to compromise as you can, but not afraid to be assertive and stand your ground at the same time. You could try sweetening the deal by offering to take on some of the property maintenance tasks if they lower the rent (such as gardening or mowing the lawn), offer to sign a two-year lease at the new lower rate or to pay your rent several months in advance at a discounted rate.

If you realise your landlord isn’t going to budge on the cost of rent take the opportunity to find other things you can negotiate about. For instance, you could ask them to pay for your parking permit or to have the place repainted. You'll never know what benefits you could get if you're too afraid to ask.

5. Be prepared to walk away.

If the negotiation doesn’t go favourably consider your options and those of your landlord. Will you move somewhere else or keep paying the same price? Can your landlord easily replace you? Will the cost of finding a new tenant be less than lowering the rent? If you work these things out before the negotiation you will more easily understand why your landlord does or doesn't accept your proposal.

Going into the negotiation with your landlord you need to have a plan B at the ready. In any negotiation the party with more options typically has the most power. Let your landlord know you have several other options if they don't accept your requests. Sometimes the fact that you can easily walk away motivates a landlord to want you to stay on and makes them more willing to compromise. Talk about the other rental properties you’ve looked at, their prices of rent, and the neighbourhoods you’ve been considering. However, if the landlord has other options (i.e. other tenants at the ready) it is likely they will not move an inch.

Quick tips for negotiation success:

  • Go into the negotiation well prepared.
  • Be assertive but calm. 
  • Don't be afraid to ask for what you want.
  • Initially ask for a lower price than you know you're going to get.
  • Never accept their first offer.
  • Aim high and expect the best outcome. A positive attitude is a must.
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At the end of the day the key to convincingly negotiating your case for lower rent comes down to your preparation, timing, open mindedness, confidence and your ability to sell yourself as an appealing tenant. If you carry out the five steps above you’ll have a good chance of striking a better deal with your landlord. It never hurts to ask, right?  

For more advice for renters check out our guide to ace a rental application and the 10 most affordable places to rent in Australia.

Happy house hunting!

From the Homely Team

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