by Shelly King
Another odd twist to the already pretzellike housing problem is more people are moving out of their houses and into rentals. That creates more demand which creates higher rents for those of us happily renting all along. Hardly seems fair, but it’s not hopeless.
Most landlords are much more willing to work with a tenant they know and are happy with than to take a chance on someone new. So if you’ve been a good tenant, you’ve got a lot of leverage. Here are tips to talking to your landlord.
1. Choose one person to be the negotiator, if you’re signing the lease with your roommate. You don’t want multiple people chiming in with points that contradict each other.
2. Know basic information about the landlord and try to understand the landlord’s position. Is your apartment owned by real estate management company with thousands of units or a family renting out a room or their second home? Will a $25 reduction in rent be a big deal to them? Knowing the landlord’s concerns will help the two of you come to an understanding.
3. Be polite. Don’t get angry or hostile. This discussion can be very emotional. This is your home afterall! But being polite will help you stay there.
4. Do not make ultimatums. “Go back to the previous rent or I won’t stay!” Unless, of course, you mean it. Most times, the costs of moving outweigh a moderate rent increase, so be careful.
5. Do your research. Check Craigslist and other online sites to compare your rent with similar places in the area.
6. Do your talking in person or on the phone. It’s good to have a paper record of the agreement, but do your negotiating by actually talking with your landlord. It’s too easy for wording in letters and emails to be misconstrued and negatively affect your negotiation.
After it’s over, treat yourself to something you enjoy. Regardless of the outcome, you stood up for what you wanted and you should be rewarded for that.