When is it acceptable to ask for a rent reduction?

Now this post isn’t about expecting your landlord to suddenly sprout a halo and reimburse you every time the bin collection is late. Nor is it about threatening to camp outside the estate agents in protest each time a rent increase rears its ugly head (tempting though it might be!).

It’s first and foremost about identifying situations where you’re in a good position to ask for a little something in return.

It may seem bold to ask for a chunk shaved off your rent, but asking for a reduction in the following scenarios has worked for inconvenienced tenants. Of course, your landlord might not be willing to negotiate, but all’s fair in love and property – if you think it could be fruitful, a polite email is always worth 5 minutes of your time.

Building or maintenance work overruns

So your landlord is looking to install a smart new bathroom suite? Fantastic news – even if that means four of you will all be battling for one bathroom at 7:30am for three weeks.

This becomes slightly more annoying, however, if building delays mean that three weeks quickly turns into six. At this point the features that most endeared you to the property aren’t accessible and the inconvenience makes paying the rent increasingly painful.

If the inconvenience is fairly minor and the building work is for tenant benefit, then the best way to approach this is to appeal to the landlord and explain the over-run has made daily living increasingly difficult. From experience, this can gain you a small peace offering; the minute a landlord begins to realise that appealing features of the property are out of bounds, they’re usually willing to see things from the tenant’s perspective.

If your property becomes what you would consider to be inhospitable due to building or maintenance work and your landlord remains stubborn, then visit the Government’s private renting page (https://www.gov.uk/private-renting) or Shelter for help and support.

Your landlord tells you they are dropping the property management company

Property management rates vary depending on the area, but even if you assume that your landlord is only paying 10% of rental income to the company, that still leaves them 10% better off when they drop the middle man.

Your landlord will expect to be financially better off for going solo, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be savvy enough to expect a reduction too. Research standard rates for your area (even be bold enough to directly ask the company in question) and find out how much your landlord stands to save. If 20% of your rent is charged, then consider asking the landlord for a 10% reduction.

Keep in mind however, that the property management company acts as a professional go-between, so ensure beforehand that you’ll be happy dealing with your landlord directly.

Rent hikes? Mitigate it by being a good tenant

Every tenant is a potential risk to a landlord, so if you’ve been quietly taking care of your rental property for the past 3 years, then your landlord probably appreciates it more than you know. Asking for a rent reduction because you’ve been considerate enough not to play music at 3am every night isn’t the aim here, but you can certainly leverage this when rent hikes come knocking.

Of course if property is booming in your area then you may not be in a position to bargain as the rental increase may be a genuine reaction to more profitable times. However, it’s certainly worth flouting your merits if the dreaded increase comes.

If your landlord wants to go ahead with the rent increase and you aren’t happy to pay it, then your landlord is simply offsetting a more significant risk with a small rent increase. You both stand to gain in reality.

The economic climate means that rent is lower for new tenants in the same building as you

A little bit awkward and certainly annoying, finding out that new tenants have received a hefty discount in a property in the same building as yours (with the same specifications) is enough to make you speed-dial your landlord and demand the same rates.

Before your irritability boils over, researching a property price decreases in your area can give you some quantifiable evidence to back up your request for the lower rent rate. Some property sites will even (very helpfully) list year-on-year increases and decreases (expressed as fees and percentages) so you can see how the rent has fluctuated.

It’s even worth explaining that at the current rent your property would be likely to be vacant and you have paid at a higher rate during a large proportion of this ‘dip’ period.

You refer new tenants

Ah, the good old referral fee. Businesses do it for recruitment purposes, gyms do it for members, so if you tell a friend/colleague all about your complex and they move there, it stands to reason that you should benefit a little too. Now of course if your development is highly desirable, the referral principle might not work, but as with all the tips in this post, it’s certainly worth a try.

Victoria is a property blogger for Shepherd Gilmour Properties, a letting and estate agency specialising in Manchester city centre property.

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