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Rent increases are becoming increasingly common, with median rents rising 14% last year alone. However, a Lifehacker report suggests that rent increases are not always inevitable, and offers tips on negotiating their cancellation when signing a new lease. These include reminding landlords that they too are human, providing evidence that you are a good tenant, exploring comparable rental rates, and being polite. It’s worth negotiating with landlords, as it can be more expensive for them to change tenant than it is to cancel a rent increase.
You can dispute a rent increase: how to do it
Nationwide, median rents rose 14% last year. And financial projections have been warning for months of additional increases in the first half of 2023. Increasing the cost of rent seems to be an inevitable part of the life of a tenant. But is it inevitable? You can’t always avoid a rent increase, but sometimes you can, Lifehacker reports.
Here are some tips on negotiating a rent increase cancellation before signing a new lease.
Remember that your landlord is also a person
Sometimes all you have to do is ask. You can achieve what you want by simply writing a letter to the landlord. It needs to state that you will not “pull” such an increase. Even if you rarely see your landlord, even if the rent is automatically deducted from your bank account every month, there is usually a man on the other end too. And sometimes all it takes is to appeal to his conscience or kindness.
At Trulia, a real estate company, experts say the same thing. You can negotiate directly with the landlord, at least up to a point. But you must know what to negotiate and how to do it. It is expensive for the owner to look for a new tenant. Possibly more expensive than canceling a rent increase, unless it’s really badly needed. They don’t necessarily care about you as a person, but they do care that you don’t leave. Because it means they will incur losses in rent and other costs associated with changing tenants. From painting or cleaning your space to putting it on the rental market and paying a broker. Do not threaten them, but indicate in your initial letter that you are concerned that the rent increase may affect your ability to stay in the apartment.
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Provide evidence that you are a good tenant
You should review your bank statements and payment history to prove that you have always paid your rent on time. If you haven’t caused the landlord a major headache, such as damaging the apartment through your fault, you should also show that you are easy to deal with.
Provide proof of timely payments, as well as any other evidence that you are a model tenant. For example, evidence that you reported a problem in your apartment in a timely manner to avoid further damage.
Providing proof of your reliability will not only remind tenants how lucky they are to have you, but it will also show that you are “committed” to the apartment.
One option for negotiating is to offer to sign a contract for a longer period, provided that the rent does not increase. Landlords tend to like longer leases because they eliminate the costly hunt for a new tenant for a few more months. They need a secure income, and you need a secure home. This is a good deal for both of you, as long as you are confident that you are willing to stay in the area for another two to three years.
Explore comparable rental rates
Is the rent you are being asked to pay comparable to other apartments in the area? Go to the rental site and view all the apartments nearby. Make a list of those most similar to your apartment in terms of size, location, and amenities. And then create a spreadsheet with the asking price. Only provide this information to your landlord if the rent increase would significantly exceed the average price of other units. This move can be seen as aggressive (because you are essentially blaming them for overcharging). So only use it if the increase really takes you above the average price in your area. This calculator can help collect such information.
Don’t forget to talk to your neighbors as well. Money is a touchy subject, especially if you and your neighbors are not very friendly, but everyone wants to pay a reasonable price for housing, and you will agree on this. Brick Underground, a New York-based real estate company, advises asking neighbors about their own lease renewal process. And get an idea of how the landlord negotiates and what exceptions and concessions he was willing to make in the past. If you know your neighbor has the same size apartment, don’t be afraid to ask how much they pay. They may even pay more than you. So, you will help them negotiate in the future.
Most importantly, don’t be rude or aggressive with your landlord. Try to negotiate in person if possible and maintain a calm demeanor. If you act aggressively, they may not see you as the person they would like to keep in the apartment. If you address them in a direct but calm manner, you will be able to have a real conversation. Go there with all the documents at the ready and know in advance whether you are ready to make concessions. For example, agreeing to a lower increase or signing a lease for a longer period.
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