Author Topic: Negotiate a lower rent?  (Read 1038 times)

Tass

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Negotiate a lower rent?
« on: October 10, 2018, 12:30:12 PM »
I just moved into a new apartment on Sunday. When we toured the complex, we were told the apartment was on the top floor with no one above us. They wouldn't show us the exact unit for privacy reasons, because it was still occupied, so we signed the lease without seeing it. We toured a unit with an identical layout instead.

Turns out there's another unit above us, just accessed from the other side of the building. (The buildings are not all the same height, so knowing which floor we were on did not clarify this either - we had to see the unit.) Furthermore, there is a kids' bedroom right above mine which has resulted in a lot of thumping.

We don't have the top-floor promise in writing, but we did have a whole conversation about how we might have vaulted ceilings - meaning, there's a decent chance the leasing agent remembers it. (This is not the first thing they've gotten wrong - they're friendly and helpful, but not particularly on top of things.) I recognize that a verbal promise isn't much in terms of legal standing, but maybe it's enough to bargain.

We also don't want to move out of the unit because moving is miserable and exhausting and we just finished doing it, so that also puts me in a weak bargaining position, but I don't have to show that particular card.

Should I ask for a rent reduction? It's the only recompense that seems feasible at this point. How much should I ask for? And maybe most critically, how do I have this conversation?

frugalone

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2018, 07:06:33 AM »
Tass - I sure would!!!

Tass

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2018, 12:08:57 PM »
I could really use a guide on what to say and a pep talk on not giving in too quickly. I don't like complaining and I'm going to need to bluff a bit so as not to give away that I have no leverage to make them give me what I want.

Kakashi

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2018, 02:54:37 PM »
Yes, you definitely can and should ask.  However, I don't think you have much of a recourse if they say no.  At the end of the day, you signed a lease without looking at the unit, nor is what you were told in the lease.  This is a situation that the sooner you do it the better.

I personally would write a letter citing what happened, what you were told, why you weren't shown the unit, etc.  It can be in email format if they have an email address to send it to. 

Tass

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2018, 02:59:03 PM »
Yeah, I realize I don't have much recourse. It just seems like something I might as well ask for. I would deeply prefer to write a letter than to confront someone in person, but I'm not sure which has the greater possibility of actually achieving the goal.

Tass

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2018, 03:51:16 PM »
Decided the best course of action is to go in person and leave the letter behind after explaining ourselves. That way they get the in-person guilt trip and the formal documentation.

Here's my first pass at a letter, any thoughts?

Quote
Dear [Apartment Complex],

We moved into your complex last Sunday, 10/7/18, and we are looking forward to living here for at least the next year. However, we have a concern about our unit. When we toured the complex and put down our holding deposit, we were told that the unit, [ # ], was a top-floor unit with no one above us. In fact, we had an extended conversation with a leasing agent about the possibility that we would have vaulted ceilings. (We are not concerned about the presence or absence of vaulted ceilings, but rather hoping this detail will jog memories.)

We were not allowed to see the unit due to privacy concerns, as it was still occupied at the time, so we had no way to verify this information for ourselves. We still had not seen the unit when we signed the lease digitally and agreed to the terms therein. Upon move-in day, we realized that there had been a mistake: our unit does have another unit above it, though accessed from the other side of the building. Judging from the thumping on our ceiling, this unit is occupied.

We like [complex] and we have no desire to move again. However, the price we agreed to was for a top-floor unit, which we are disappointed not to have received. Therefore, we are requesting a reduction in our rent by 15%. We believe this reflects the disparity between what we were led to believe we were signing for and what we received.

We hope we can move past this mistake quickly and enjoy our time here.

Thank you,
[Names and signatures]

I believe 15% is a ludicrous number, but figured you have to start haggling high. (I have been advised to ask for 25%.) I would be delighted with anything above 8%, and even if they don't give us anything we have no plan besides just to accept the error. Unfortunately we do seem to be on the lower end of their two-bedroom price range already - maybe because it's a middle-floor apartment facing concrete.

I pushing for this going to put us on the landlord's hit-list forever? Is there a downside?

Thanks for all your help.

Kakashi

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2018, 04:11:51 PM »
I'm by no means a negotiation expert.  This is obviously just my opinion.

A negotiation/haggling works if both sides wish to achieve a desired outcome.  However, in your case, your lease is signed.  There is really no desire on the other side to lower your rent objectively.  The most you can do is appeal to guilt, nice person, and fairness outcome.  So I wouldn't start with a number at all.  And in fact, it would benefit your "position" is if you were willing to move to a top floor unit in the same complex.  Which no doubt is a ton of hassle, I get this.  But what this makes it seem like is that it really is important to you. 

So I would ask for, either
1) moving to a different top floor unit
or
2) some concession in rent (and leave this open ended)


Tass

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2018, 04:25:28 PM »
Good point. Are you suggesting we choose one of those two things to ask for, or that we propose them both to the complex?

Kakashi

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2018, 04:39:07 PM »
You propose them both, and hope they come back with rental concession.  But of course, only if you really are willing to move. 

This concept I learned from a lawyer who did something for me unrelated.  When you really don't have a legal leg to stand on, then you just try to appeal to the "good side" of the other person in hopes they do something for you. 

In this case, you don't seem to have a legal leg, so going in demanding a certain rent reduction may offend the other side.  And once they are offended, they'll just say "no", and you'll never get what you want. 

So going in from an angle of, "this was a big reason why we signed the lease here" and that it's so important to you that should they have an open top floor unit, you'll move immediately, conveys the impression that this really IS important to you.  What you are actually hoping for is that they don't, or it's too difficult logistically/bookkeeping that they rather just offer you some concession.

Now if they do offer you a new unit, then I would move, but perhaps ask for some moving related expenses or something.

Of course, if moving is off the table for you due to time/hassle, etc, then I wouldn't ask for that. 

Peachtea

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2018, 06:11:23 PM »
I like Kakashiís advice and will add that I would avoid going for a % of rent decrease. I think landlords donít like lowering rent for fear it will affect next years rent price. I would literally phrase it as a ďrent concessionĒ when talking/writing your letter. In my mind, that would mean something like either $x amount off this months rent or x months free.

I think you start out stronger not pitching an amount first and having them give you first offer. In person is better, or Iíve haggled over the phone which helps with the fear of confrontation but still gives you tone cues and the ability quickly counter, making it more likely to reach an agreement (if not just to make you go away). L: what were you thinking for a rent concession? You: what can you do for us? L: I can give you a $500 discount on next monthís rent. You: Thatís low. Since itís a one time concession and we would be stuck in this apartment if no top floors open up next year when we renew, I think 2 months rent off would be fair. L: The most I can do is 1 month. You: ...I guess that will work, but please let us know next year if a top unit opens up.

Thatís obviously an idealized version of events. But hey, could happen and gives you some phases to put in your negotiation vocabulary. One month rent concession is equivalent of an 8% one year reduction, two month is 16% etc.

I would avoid the letter unless absolutely necessary; donít give them time to think about it and stall. Push for an agreement during the meeting/phone call. And key is to get whatever rent concession in writing afterwards and hang on to with your lease until you get your deposit back. If negotiating on the phone, say something like please send me a confirming email by COB today. If they donít, call them back ASAP next morning and harangue them until they do. Respond to the confirming email ďacceptingĒ that as a solution and politely thank them. If in person, donít leave until you have something in writing and signed by both of you.



Tass

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2018, 07:07:53 PM »
Thanks all, great points from all sides. We're going to bring it up tomorrow.

Tass

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2018, 05:26:28 PM »
Well, we're not going to have a he said/she said problem. When I went in to report the issue, the leasing agent continued to insist to me that our unit was top floor - including showing it to me on a map and explaining that it should be a top floor unit - until I asked her to walk out and look at it with me. She didn't exactly apologize but she did explain that by what she was told, it SHOULD be a top floor unit, and acknowledged that it clearly isn't. I think we have them in a position of admitting they made a mistake. I suggested a rent break without saying any numbers.

She couldn't do anything about it for me though, so I have to come back on Tuesday (early from work) to talk to the manager about it. I asked the agent to give the manager a head's up for me.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 05:28:00 PM by Tass »

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2018, 07:00:45 PM »
You do now have the leasing agent on the hook for telling you a lie.  That's leaverage.

If the thumping from above is going to be a daily nuisance for the next year I would consider asking to move to a different, top-floor unit as promised and for the landlord/agent to pay for professional movers.  A rent break would have to be for the sort of money that next summer I would still be thinking "yes it's noisy but the money off is still worth it".

clifp

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2018, 07:49:06 PM »
You do now have the leasing agent on the hook for telling you a lie.  That's leaverage.

If the thumping from above is going to be a daily nuisance for the next year I would consider asking to move to a different, top-floor unit as promised and for the landlord/agent to pay for professional movers.  A rent break would have to be for the sort of money that next summer I would still be thinking "yes it's noisy but the money off is still worth it".

I agree this makes the most sense, it is a hassle to move, but with professional movers, it is a short move, maybe a weekend and hopefully, you haven't already unpacked all the boxes.

If they don't have a top floor unit available. At an absolute minimum, they have to let you break your lease at your convenience, or give you a rent reduction.



Tass

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2018, 08:47:21 PM »
The thumping has so far been a one-time thing, though of course our sample size is small. I can live here with merely footsteps overhead. If they were going to move us I think they would have to pay for professional movers for us to be interested; we moved here ourselves renting a uhaul, and it was a tough move. We're three flights of stairs up - no elevator.

We have mostly unpacked at this point, though, excepting bookshelves.

Good point about lease breaking, I will make sure to ask for that.

frugalone

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2018, 06:27:08 AM »
If there are children above you - they know there is thumping.  No need to worry about that.

Tass

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2018, 06:17:33 PM »
No luck, y'all, though thanks for all your advice.

They said they can offer us first dibs on the next open top floor 2 bedroom, which could be several months, and waive the transfer fee when that happens. MAYBE also a $100-150 rent break at that time to help cover moving costs. I doubt we'll take it; moving here was miserable.

Maybe a more assertive negotiator could have gotten more, but at least I asked.

Tass

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Re: Negotiate a lower rent?
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2018, 11:45:47 AM »
I don't think they believed for a second we might move out now. I didn't explicitly threaten to do so.