Most of us are trying to spend less and save more, and that means cutting back our expenses wherever we can. And what's your biggest monthly expense? If you're like the majority of people, it's housing, and if you don't own your own home, that means rent. Sure, you can cut back on your food budget, and you can try to turn off lights and lower your heat, but if you can save some money on your monthly rent, it can really add up. Even a decrease in rent of just £100 a month, which doesn't seem like a lot, adds up to £1200 per year -- a tidy sum indeed!
And while a lot of tenants seem to think that their rent is a fixed, immovable number, the simple truth is that it's not. Instead, the amount you pay in rent is set by your landlord because he or she thinks that's what the current rental market will bear. Most renters accept the rent as a given and don't even try to negotiate for a lower amount.
That's the key word there: negotiate. Your landlord probably won't offer to let you pay less per month, and merely asking for a reduction in your rent will probably get you nowhere. You need strong and persuasive reasoning if you're going to get a positive response. How can you negotiate a lower monthly rent? Here are five tips.
1. Pay your rent several months in advance.
A big concern among landlords over the world is whether or not their tenants will pay their rent in full and on time. If you can alleviate this concern for your landlord, you're treasured as a tenant, and one of the best ways to do it is to pay the rent for the next few months. Not only will your landlord feel confident that he or she will not have to worry about late payments or deal with the messy process of evicting you for failure to pay rent (which will cost him or her a hefty amount to initiate), but you'll show that you're reliable and will always have the money to pay for your housing. Offer to pay your rent several months in advance in exchange for a lower rate.
2. Lease for more than a year.
Finding new tenants every year is a big hassle for landlords. They have to clean and repair things in the rental unit between lessees, and there's no guarantee that they'll find a good tenant -- or any tenant at all -- to rent their home. If you can commit to living in a place for two years, or even three years, that's worth quite a lot to a landlord. In exchange for signing a longer-term lease, you may be able to negotiate a lower monthly rent; be sure to ask about it if your plans allow for a longer lease and you have yet to sign anything.
3. If you think you're overpaying, or if the rental market is slow, present evidence to your prospective landlord.
What's the current rental market like where you live? What's the average monthly rent for the size of the home you're renting in comparable neighbourhoods? Do some research on the internet and by asking around, and if you can gather evidence to show that what your landlord is asking is too high, show it to him or her. Similarly, how is the demand for your local rental market? If it's low, the landlord may have a hard time finding a new tenant and may be willing to lower the monthly rent as an incentive for you to stay. Either case could be extremely persuasive in getting your landlord to lower the rent.
4. Make the case that you're a good tenant.
This is easier to do with a landlord from whom you've already rented, but you can always make the case that your rent should be low based on your high value as a tenant. If you have a history of paying your rent on time, keeping your home clean, taking good care of everything inside your home, not keeping pets, not smoking, being quiet, and getting along with others, you're quite valuable as a tenant. If you know that your credit score is high, offer to show it to your landlord, as a good credit rating is often an indicator that you're a responsible individual. Build your case so that your landlord sees that it's worthwhile to lower the rent rather than risk losing such an ideal candidate and having to start over with a new tenant who may not be as good.
5. An initial "no" is not the end of the bargaining.
Let's say you've asked your landlord to lower your rent by £200 per month, and he or she says no. That's not the end of the conversation -- instead, it just means you need to negotiate further. Keep in mind the old social psychology phenomenon known as the door in the face: if a big ask is rejected, back down and try a smaller ask. If a reduction by £200 per month is too much, you might try asking for £150, or even £100. These smaller numbers will be much more appealing to your landlord than your initial ask, and you may find that while you don't get the reduction you initially wanted, you'll still get some reduction in your monthly rent.