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Can I ask for a rent reduction?
January 29, 2012 6:17 PM   Subscribe

I want a reduction in rent, but landlord hasn't renewed the lease yet. I have rented an apartment located in Virginia for the past year; the location is wonderful and the unit is spacious, but the management company is less than ideal. I'm willing to put up with that if I can get a reduction in my rent. Do I have a chance? What do I say?

Currently I am off lease, it expired in mid-December. I had sent an email in early January reminding them about renewing, and it was forwarded to the head of the management company but I haven't heard anything since. I genuinely feel that the apartment is not worth the amount I am currently paying - it's old and it shows. Other units have newer fixtures and better amenities and they are paying the same amount I am, and to boot, the company isn't maintaining the surrounding property very well. Add in the fact that I called maintenance in early December about a window pane that was painted in place having come out of the frame. I called maintenance and made an appointment to have it fixed - I ended up taking a day off of work as he kept pushing the time back further and further only to never show up. I had to tape the window into place because an open window gets really cold really fast in December (and haven't been able to make another appointment because I can't afford to take another day off for someone that might not show up!)

However, I can put up with all that, I just don't want to move or pay as much in rent (please note I will actually move if the rent doesn't get lowered OR their practices don't get better). I want to email to ask for a reduction in rent, but with no longer having a lease, I'm worried. FWIW, I am a good tenant, I pay on time and have no complaints against me. There are at least two other units, possibly more, in the building that have been empty for months. (I also don't want to move at this point because I have heard stories from previous tenants about them not giving or taking forever to get their security deposits back, and I can't afford that kind of a gaping hole in my bank account right now).

So do I have a shot at this? I'd like to start low and ask for a $150 reduction, but I'm not sure if I'm asking too much. What should I say? Since I am off-lease and they say no, how much notice do I have to give them that I am moving? If they say no and ask me to vacate, how much time do they have to give me?
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
 
Sure you have a shot- assuming where you live is anything like L.A. there are tons of apartments sitting empty.

I did almost exactly this a while ago and got a $175 reduction. I emailed and said:

a) I liked living here but might not be able to afford it any more unless the rent was reduced to the amount I specified

and

b) I was willing to sign a new 6 or 12 month lease if rent was reduced.

If you are on good terms with any tenants who moved in after you, try to find out what they pay. It's probably much less than what you pay. That will give you an idea what the current market value of your place is- if you've been there a few years, it's almost certainly less than what it used to be.

The worst they can do is say "no."
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:32 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want to email to ask for a reduction in rent, but with no longer having a lease, I'm worried

Why would this worry you btw? This is a huge point in your favor- if they don't do what you like, you can leave with 30 days notice and now they have three empty units! Offering to sign a new lease is your strongest bargaining chip. You want less rent, they want a tenant locked down for another year.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:35 PM on January 29, 2012


It can't hurt to ask. I did something similar last year, and got $100 off my monthly rent. One thing that really helped my case is finding comparable apartments on the market at a lower rate. In my case the market had softened (not sure if that is the situation here) and when my landlord knew I had been shopping and that I knew the market they took my offer right away.
posted by brbmaroon at 6:56 PM on January 29, 2012


If you are on good terms with any tenants who moved in after you, try to find out what they pay. It's probably much less than what you pay. That will give you an idea what the current market value of your place is- if you've been there a few years, it's almost certainly less than what it used to be.

Eh, this would depend where in Virginia the OP lives. If they're in the metro DC area, it seems that this area hasn't been hit as badly by the recession as other areas. I've lived in the area for 7.5 years and the rents have continued to rise, even through the recession, if perhaps not quite at the same rate as previously.

As added antedata, I know friends in Chicago and the SF Bay area that have not had any rent increases in a couple of years, but mine (and everyone I know) has continued to rise. And it's not just in my building, I've been looking to move and rents seem to be stable at best, or as in my building, gone up a bit.

Still, doesn't hurt to ask. And for the additional questions, it's hard to know if $150 is enough, too much or not enough without knowing what you're paying now. Month to month is generally not a big deal. I've lived in the same apartment the entire time I've been in this area and only had a lease for the first two years. My rent hasn't gone up any more per year then it would if I had a lease. Plus I have the added advantage of only having to give 30 days notice should I find another job elsewhere or find a better apartment in this area. IANAL but I would imagine that if they said no and asked you to vacate, they should also give you 30 days, but you might want to check into that.
posted by kaybdc at 7:31 PM on January 29, 2012


I have not done this myself, but I have a good friend who was able to negotiate her rent down from around $1200 to around $1000 in Los Angeles a couple years ago. She told her landlord that she was considering moving, which was true, because felt she was overpaying for the apartment in the current market.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:47 PM on January 29, 2012


Go down to the leasing office. (Or send a friend, if they know you on sight.) Find out what the rent rate they're offering on a new lease is. Betcha it's at least $150 less than you're paying. If so, offer to re-sign at that rate. If not, offer to re-sign at the rate you want anyway.

I encountered this with with my own leasing company maybe a year ago. I'd had a couple of year-long leases, then had been off-lease for two months - they sent me a notice offering me a new lease at over $200 less than I'd originally signed for. Nowadays, people really seem to like having that piece of paper saying you'll pay 'em money for a set amount of time. If you've already got unfilled vacancies, I'd say that's a fairly good sign they're likely to be interested in your offer.
posted by mie at 4:25 AM on January 30, 2012


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