Ways to avoid or prevent lease renewal rent raises.
Rent hikes are never a welcomed parting gift for agreeing to keep padding the pockets of your landlord for another year. But how do you avoid them? Almost always, when you approach your landlord about renewing your lease there is a price to be paid and it translates to a slight or significant increase in your rental amount. The whole idea of rental increase is silly because you’ve already proved yourself as a good tenant (well in most cases) and you’re eliminating the hassle of renting the unit to someone else.
Rent increases are usually justified by a cost of living increase and thus making it common practice. However, I believe there are quite a few people who’ll agree, while your cost of living increases, your pay rate increase doesn’t ever match the percentage. In this you’ll want to do some creative bartering with your landlord and try to get them to agree to a middle ground when it comes to increasing your rent.
The first step is to ask your landlord about their policies regarding rent increases and if there are any particular situations that may allow you to lock yourself into a lease free of rent increases for the life of the lease. In some cases agreeing to a longer lease than the standard year will suffice. However, if you’re not comfortable making a commitment that long, you’ll want to ask to insert a specific clause in the lease that allows you to terminate it because of certain circumstances. Because landlords profit better from occupied properties than vacant ones you may be surprised at the options available to you. For instance, if you plan on buying a house and want to save money towards your down payment, you may agree to sign a two-year lease with a clause that stipulates in the event you purchase a home the lease can be broken.
In this scenario you’ll want to make sure you can offer some sort of monetary compensation to the landlord for allowing you to do this. The biggest problem people face when negotiating anything is our insatiable appetite for the WIFM network (What’s in it for me?). Make it worthwhile for both sides of the table. Whether you lock yourself into a specific amount (a percentage of the lease you’re agreeing to sign) or advertising compensation to place the property back on the market, there has to be something to compensate the landlord for their acceptance of your terms. Get creative and be honest. Stipulate terms you’ll be able to meet; don’t make unrealistic, outrageous terms you’ll never be able to fulfill no matter how hard you try.
Some people prefer a month-to-month lease allowing them the ability to vacate at any time. This always comes with a higher rental rate than those who’ve locked themselves into a six-month, year or longer lease term. If you initially signed a lease like this but have determined your situation has changed and you plan on staying longer, by all means, speak with the landlord and make arrangements to revise your rental terms.
For people who possess the ability to repair and fix general problems with a rental unit you want to discuss the possibility of rental discounts or set rent amounts in exchange for these services. Property maintenance is a constant thorn in any landlord’s backside. The ability to rent to someone who’ll be well equipped to handle small problems and fix things that eliminate the need to call repairmen can be a lucrative way to keep your rent at the same amount or even get discounts on the rent you pay already.
Another consideration is the honesty factor. If you’d love to stay another year or more in the same residence but just can’t afford the rent increase talk with your leasing agent or property manager about it. Rules, regulations and policies can always be negotiated depending on the circumstances. All you can do is ask. What’s the worst they can say – No? You won’t know until you ask.
An important thing to remember regarding negotiation with your property manager is the size of the complex and company or individual. Larger apartment complexes and companies are less likely to be sympathetic to your situation. Individuals and other people who own smaller amounts of rental real estate will be more likely to listen to your concerns and work with you. No matter what size, it’s not unreasonable to question rent hikes and try to find a way around them. Be aware though, if you’ve proved yourself to be a less than perfect renter your landlord will be less than avid to work with you and try and find a way to keep you as a tenant.