Can I ask my landlord to knock more of my rent?
June 6, 2010 12:24 PM   Subscribe

My landlord decided to put the apartment I currently live in on the market. That means an open house in my apartment about every week (for two hours, which I'm not allowed to be in the apartment) and one-off showings during the week with minimum 24 hour notice (again, can't be in apt). For my inconvenience, she's taking $200 dollars off of my $1700 rent.

Initially, I thought this was generous, but starting to think it's not. Here's why:

1. I need to clean the place prior to a showing, hide personal items etc.
2. I need to clean the place after a showing, because people are shuffling in dirt all over the floors.
3. The realtor wants the apartment to be cold, as it makes people more comfortable, so I have to run the A/Cs for her at least an hour before she shows the apartment (I'm going to buy timers for the A/Cs).

So far, there's been one showing and it pretty much has ruined my weekend. And, I have to go through this entire month and maybe more of this.

My landlord is very nice and very, very fair. So, I'm trying to be equally as fair. My lease expires the end of June and she hasn't asked me to vacate. Instead, we're going to do a month-to-month lease as it's better for the both of us. See? She's pretty awesome. But, this is a giant pain in the butt.

I've never lived in a place that was in the process of being sold before, so I imagine that this experience is just generally an inconvenience to whomever is occupying the residence. So, I realize that part of this just goes along with the territory, but is $200 reasonable to deal with it all?
posted by vivzan to Home & Garden (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What do you want out of this? I've never had a financial incentive to show and have always just moved. She's offering you much more than any landlord (NYC area fwiw) I've had has offered.

If you don't want to negotiate something else with her just find a new place, or deicide what it is you'd like and ask for it. I'd suggest looking at your lease, though, she probably doesn't legally need to be as nice as she's being.
posted by cestmoi15 at 12:33 PM on June 6, 2010

I've never lived in a place that was in the process of being sold before, so I imagine that this experience is just generally an inconvenience to whomever is occupying the residence. So, I realize that part of this just goes along with the territory, but is $200 reasonable to deal with it all?

Absolutely. I've lived in two apartment buildings that went through this process and in neither situation were we compensated at all. I don't know what your jurisdiction is but it's likely not required for her to compensate you at all.

I don't really understand how a two hour showing (plus cleaning, which you would have to do anyways if) and an hour of A/C can ruin an entire weekend. A possible solution; plan your errands around the time you need to be out and be productive in the time you're asked not to be there.
posted by Hiker at 12:35 PM on June 6, 2010

Your rent is discounted by 11%. Is the hassle/clean up/etc taking up more than 11% of your time each month?

Also, you can always ask the landlord to request that people coming in take off their shoes.
posted by ttyn at 12:37 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

You don't say where you are, but it sounds like she's exercising her legal rights. So in answer to your question, yes, $200 is a reasonable amount to deal with it all. So is $0, which is what you'd get from any landlord experience I have ever had or heard of.

Unless you have a very strange contract, you don't have to do 1. and 3. if they ruin your weekend.
posted by caek at 12:43 PM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Count yourself lucky in regards to the $200. Many standard lease forms require cooperation with a selling agent during "reasonable hours" without compensation. Now, the issue to me is whether the realtor is being reasonable with you. I think that requiring you to turn on the A/C before s/he gets there is overbearing. Since you seem to be concerned about dirt more than many others of us might be, I suggest that you don't have to clean before a showing. Perhaps just a quick pick-up of things out of place might do the job. Save the cleaning until after the public has trekked through.

I'm more concerned with your lease arrangement. Do you want to continue living there once it is sold? Have you considered that a new owner could simply evict you without cause, double the rent or add any number of new conditions to your occupancy rights? If you want to go on living there at a reasonable rent, I would suggest that you discuss an extension of the lease when it comes up. If your landlord refuses anything but a month-to-month arrangement, part of that putting away of personal items might include packing for a move.
posted by Old Geezer at 12:43 PM on June 6, 2010

What does your lease say? Because mine says that I have to let them show the apartment in the 30 days' notice I have given them. So check that. It's a fairly standard thing.

The air conditioner thing seems weird, but - you're getting PAID FOR THE INCONVENIENCE? You have a righteous landlord. Most landlords won't do that. Also, what do you care about what other people think of your housekeeping skills? I know my lease says I have to let them show the apartment but it doesn't say that it has to be in pristine condition. As a former broker I can tell you that it's very rare that anyone cleans before showing an apartment. (Houses are different.)

Make them take off their shoes. If the dirt being tracked in is so substantial, request that accommodation.
posted by micawber at 12:47 PM on June 6, 2010

200$ a month is reasonable. You probably can insist that you be allowed to stay in your apartment during an open house -- I've often seen tenants in, though this might depend on your jurisdiction. You can ask people to take off their shoes, though I wouldn't bet on them actually following through with it if you're not there. You don't need to clean before the open house, though I would hide personal items. I wouldn't run the a/c for an hour before the open house starts, but some reasonable shorter time.
posted by jeather at 12:58 PM on June 6, 2010

Hopefully you are starting to see that you're getting an unusually sweet deal. I've been in this position twice and NEVER been offered a dime in compensation (and I never got much notice, either, even though I was supposed to).

So yeah, just ask nicely (leave out the whole "my weekend has been ruined!" thing) that the realtor have visitors take their shoes off. You can even put out a mat or a Rubbermaid bin for this purpose.
posted by scody at 1:00 PM on June 6, 2010

That's kind of just how it goes, as other people have said. If the prep time is getting to you, just live like you're a guest in someone's home for a while - keep your personal items stowed when not in use. I know, if you're like my wife, the get all the toiletries out/put them away every time would be more trouble than just putting them away once for the showing, but this is just something you have to expect. Plus, $200 bonus!
posted by ctmf at 1:33 PM on June 6, 2010

Nice that she is giving you the $200 discount. But you are not required to clean beforehand or stash your personal items unless the $200 is for cleaning and stashing, then do it; if it is for inconvenience, then you have no obligation. For what it is worth, try to move as soon as you can. I have been in this situation and it is really annoying.
posted by fifilaru at 2:27 PM on June 6, 2010

Rent compensation's unheard of where I am. The more usual thing is a letter with a month's notice to get out.
The requirement for you not to be in your house is a bit odd though—I can't count the number of inspections I've been to where the current tenant's been on the lounge watching TV, or reading a book.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 2:28 PM on June 6, 2010

The only thing that I think is an unfair request is that you're not allowed in the apartment. If you're responsible for the cleaning and set-up, I don't see why you should also have to vacate the place. I think that it would be okay to ask to renegotiate this.

And yeah, acknowledge that the $200 off your rent for the inconvenience is pretty awesome.
posted by desuetude at 2:38 PM on June 6, 2010

Wow, when this happened to me, I didn't get any compensation. And the house was shown every day (hot market at the time) and we had to vacate. Consider yourself lucky!
posted by Knowyournuts at 3:05 PM on June 6, 2010

You certainly aren't actually required to clean-up and hide your personal effects at whim, nor is likely legal to require that you vacate the premises. What if you were in a wheelchair, or work from home, for example? As to the ambient air temperature, this is your residence, and entirely your decision. Tell the Realtor to get stuffed, clean when, and as you want, occupy your residence if you see fit; and count yourself incredibly lucky that your landlord is cool enough to offer you compensation, something I've never heard of, ever.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:17 PM on June 6, 2010

Best answer: We were in a similar situation the last couple of months. It was annoying, but not as bad as we thought it would be to be ready for walkthroughs and all of that. However, I do think it's unreasonable for the realtor to ask you to increase the AC, and request that you not be home. you're paying for occupancy; I don't know what's legal, but I would bet that you very much have the right to remain home. (though we initially wanted to be home for our walkthroughs, after the 2nd time it just felt very awkward, and actually tried to not be home)

Appeasing the cleanliness standards of future buyers is not your problem. As long as you maintain a pretty good standard per general rental agreements, this is not something you are obligated to do. Again, when this happened to us, we tried to be extra tidy- but after the second walkthroughs, we were like "eh..."

In my opinion, real estate agents are on par with tow truck people. Most are pretty sleazy, and tell you what you "have" to do, but they're just trying to see how much they can milk you.

Here's what I would so - ask for 24-48 hours notice. Thank her for the extra $200 for the inconvenience, but it is your home, you will be home if you want to, you really do not like AC (it makes you feel ill, or gives you a headache as it does for a lot of people, whatever, it's your home you decide what's comfortable for you), and you tell her you will try to remember to tidy up before a showing, but you know, sometimes there are other priorities.

Don't think you have to do things just because that is what she's saying. Stand your ground.
posted by raztaj at 3:26 PM on June 6, 2010

Also, to echo others, compensating is really pretty rare, so you really are pretty lucky. Is this for the inconvenience of selling, or are they trying to bribe you (for the AC, not being home, cleaning, etc)? I think you have to decide what's a better deal for you personally - paying a little less in rent, or not having to change up your routeine as much, and be firm about it to the realtor. Dont surrender the -$200 right away, but say that you feel you within the rights to be home and maintain certain living conditions while you're living there. But be prepared that the $200 less on rent may not stand.
posted by raztaj at 3:40 PM on June 6, 2010

You should be allowed in the apartment. While you have the lease, it's YOUR apartment. No ifs, ands or buts. I suspect that most places it wouldn't stand even if it were written in to the lease. Lots of leases have clauses that are illegal. Call a tenants right org and ask.
posted by pjaust at 4:18 PM on June 6, 2010

I am currently in a similar situation (except my lease is still in effect for another year) and man, I envy you getting some sort of financial acknowledgment of what a frigging PITA this is. FWIW, I think it sounds pretty fair.

If the "can't be in the apartment" is coming from the realtor, I'd take that with a grain of salt. Personally I don't want to be in my apartment when strangers are walking around judging it, but if I have to be here for some reason they're just going to have to suck it up.
posted by sldownard at 4:23 PM on June 6, 2010

You should be able to be in the apartment except it sounds like you have accepted compensation for showings under certain conditions, one being that you are not in the apt during showings.
posted by Melsky at 4:57 PM on June 6, 2010

I would go the other way. I would decline the $200 and tell them you will be staying in the apartment if convenient and not spending the money on the a/c if it is not warranted in your opinion. This for two reasons. One, if I took the $200, I would feel obligated to do what they wanted. Two, it may help them understand the situation from your point of view and either raise the ante or change the viewing terms. The big risk is the landlord then, nicely, asking you to leave at the end of June, the initial lease term.

I would also ask myself the question, "Self, is there any amount of money that could make this ok?" Would $300 work? If there is a number, I would approach the real estate agent who stands to make a commission on the sale of the apartment to chip in. "Ma,am, this is not working out for me in terms of the inconvenience versus the compensation. I really like my landlord and don't want to do anything to hurt her. It seems like she is nice with you too. Is there any way you and I can work out better terms? Can you ask the viewers to take off their shoes? If you want to the a/c because it will help you get a bigger commission, would you pay the difference between my last June's electric bill and this month's out of your commission? I know you are giving me 24 hours notice, but is there any way we can limit the showings to the open house on the weekend and Tuesday and Wednesdays only as I have been finding it difficult to clean and get ready for these. We both want this to go well for the landlord who has been a doll to us both. Blah, blah, blah..."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:06 PM on June 6, 2010

As other said - call your local tenants rights hotline regarding rules about notifications and what-not - this is a pretty straightforward situation. Also have a go-over on your lease.

And as others have said, most importantly, consider what YOU want out of this.

You don't own the place. It's not ours. You WILL eventually be moving out - how soon depends on local tenancy laws, lease terms, and your own patience and/or willingness to fight things legally if people don't cooperate.

I would take issue with having to do any extra work or incur extra expense. Unless you agreed to this you probably don't have to. You also probably don't have to vacate YOUR home until it's actually not your home anymore. The landlord may be able to show it of and/or inspect it under certain conditions, but he very likely can't insist that you leave your personal home so strangers can walk around in it.

What I would do is clarify my legal situation, decide what I wanted, start making plans to move, talk to the landlord if anything in the current setup really bugs me (don't mention legal stuff at all if you don't have to - it sounds like your landlord is trying to be generous, and will probably be okay with small changes). Tell them you aren't comfortable leaving the house when guests are there, but you'd be happy to sort of step aside when they are there and make them welcome to look around - having looked at occupied houses before, it's always a bit awkward, as you are invading someone's space - so let the landlord know you'll stay out of the way and even invite the others in and insist they have a good look around. Make it clear you are making plans to move.
posted by TravellingDen at 5:45 PM on June 6, 2010

$200 would be nowhere near enough compensation for the hassle you're undergoing. Just because others endured it for free doesn't mean you should have to.

Unless your lease specifically says otherwise and you live in a jurisdiction where it's enforceable to "evict" you for hours at a time to show the house, don't leave the apartment during showings. Give them Sunday and another day of your choosing during which time the apartment will be clean and vacant. Otherwise you'll be there and so will your stuff. The agent will find a way to get the clients there on Sunday and Xday. 99% of leases say you have to give access on 24 hour notice. Not that you have to clean and leave.

Again, unless your lease says otherwise and the terms are actually enforceable, you don't have to roll over on this. You can be reasonable without being a doormat.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 6:50 PM on June 6, 2010

Response by poster: The cleaning thing is something that was specifically asked for. Not because I'm messy, but because the apartment needs to be in "show condition." I've also been asked to put away photos and reduce clutter. This is why it took me so long to get the place ready for the showing today.

However, I had no idea offering compensation was so unusual, so in light of that, there really is nothing for me to complain about. My landlord has been very very good, so I'll deal with the inconvenience and use that $200 towards AC bills.

Thanks all.
posted by vivzan at 7:22 PM on June 6, 2010

but because the apartment needs to be in "show condition." I've also been asked to put away photos and reduce clutter.

Regardless of how nice your landlord is being, I think it's utterly unreasonable to ask you put away photos, unless they're NSFW. Do what is reasonable for you in terms of reducing clutter, but seriously, you live there. Expecting you to maintain a perfectly neutral staged property is just unrealistic. When we were buying our house, we looked at a lot of houses that had tenants. Most of those tenants didn't even bother to clean up, let alone go to all this trouble.
posted by desuetude at 7:30 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

However, I had no idea offering compensation was so unusual, so in light of that, there really is nothing for me to complain about. My landlord has been very very good, so I'll deal with the inconvenience and use that $200 towards AC bills.

It's only unusual because landlords are used to pushing tenants around and tenants are used to taking it. If you're willing to resign yourself to your fate, so be it. But it doesn't have to be like that.

You said your weekend has been ruined by showings, showings that are going to go on indefinitely. My weekends are worth much more than $200/month and that's not counting your extra AC costs not to mention your weeknights and all the work she's asking of you.

Your landlord isn't being nice letting you go month to month. She's making it easier to sell her unit. She gets to tell buyers, "If you want a tenant, you've got one, if you don't this one's easy to lose." That the situation suits you is coincidence, not kindness.

I seriously think you're being a sucker if you do all the work/endure all the hassle she's asking of you for $200. But assertiveness is a costly thing for some, avoiding confrontation might be worth something to you, too.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 9:04 PM on June 6, 2010

I don't think compensation is that unusual. I've been compensated twice. One time we got $50 a day when we had to be out of the house and 10% our rent right off the top. A maid also came a couple of time after I threw a fit about cleaning for the 10th time.

The amount of compensation seems a little low to me, but honestly it probably is better than what most people can get. I would ask your landlord to pay for a weekly maid service on top of the $200. Also, the amount of open houses seems really excessive. I never had to put up with more than 2 a month.

I would also refuse to put away your stuff. Make the real estate agent or your landlord do it and then carefully put it back every time. Our real estate agent huffed and puffed about this, but we refused to budge. We were very busy and if she was so desperate for the place to look a certain way, she could take the time to do it.

Also, I would immediately start looking for a new place. I realize NYC is tough, but it's still a great time to be a renter (I just got my rent cut by $100 on a new place that was already cheap without even asking! Albeit in LA.) and you can expect this to be the status quo until the place is sold in which case you'll have to be out in a month. Pick a convenient time for you and put in your notice.
posted by whoaali at 11:36 PM on June 6, 2010

Response by poster: @whoaali - you make a very good point. She did make mentions of getting a maid, I'm going to follow up on that.

@the christopher hundreds - Thanks for this perspective. The expectation/co-op rule is that I'll move out when the apartment sells, not stay on as a tenant.
posted by vivzan at 7:35 AM on June 7, 2010

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