Landlord staying at my place while I'm gone - should I ask for $$?
August 10, 2014 9:14 PM   Subscribe

My landlords (a lovely 60-something couple who we like and who like us and with whom we have multiple acquaintances) are staying at their/our house for 1.5 weeks while we are on vacation. Can I ask them to knock a few bucks off that month's rent and not be an asshole?

My landlords - who I like and who like us a lot and with whom I have many acquaintances - are staying at the house we rent for a week or so while my family is on vaca. They are staying here to (I assume) avoid paying for a hotel or imposing on friends. While they are here they will a) paint part of the bathroom and b) have the outside of the house painted professionally (completely their deal - we are bound to pay for none of this nor is it our issue at all).

As we pay for water, elec., gas and garbage (which currently runs us about $300/mo), are we out of line to ask them to knock $5-$100 off our September rent in exchange for staying here?

They really are very nice and like us a lot (and vice versa); they are also super frugal. They gave us a good rent price and a 2 year lease. I want to keep the peace but know that their staying here will cost me $.

What should I do?
posted by tristeza to Work & Money (20 answers total)
Response by poster: PS - we are a single-income family with 2 parents and a 2-year old.
posted by tristeza at 9:16 PM on August 10, 2014

It sounds to me like you are getting free housesitting -- I wouldn't ask them for money, no.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:18 PM on August 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is a negotiation like any other dealing you have with your landlord. If you are asking if you can ask for money off of your September rent, the answer is "yes, of course you can." I'm surprised this didn't come up when your landlord asked to stay in your place. If you are asking if you should ask for money off of your September rent, that's entirely based on your relationship with your landlord. When deciding this, you should keep in mind it sounds like you've already agreed to this exchange; asking for money off may be perceived as changing an already agreed-to deal.

If you feel that you are paying substantially under market rent, you might just consider this part of the deal you have with your landlords. Depending on your rent, it may be worthwhile to be flexible with your landlord.

If you feel you are paying approximately market rent, you should weigh the benefits you get out of this arrangement (free responsible housesitter and new paint) with the drawbacks (increased utilities). I suspect that former is worth more than the latter to you. If you feel the drawbacks are not worth it, feel free to ask for decreased rent. However, I would suggest that the sort of landlord that you have a "nice" relationship with and values frugality as well as appreciates a tenant that's alright with staying at the tenant's place might not take very well to expecting a dollar-for-dollar match of utility costs. I suspect the additional utilities costs will be negligible and the painting costs to be non-negligible.

Based on your statement of a "good rent price", I suspect you are not paying above market rent.
posted by saeculorum at 9:22 PM on August 10, 2014 [8 favorites]

This depends if you suggested it (free housesitting) or they did. If the latter, it's fine to ask them to contribute to the utilities. I would suggest just pro-rata from the bill that covers the week they're there (i.e. if it's billed on a monthly cycle, they pay a quarter of the total). The way to ask is to just straight up say "so how should we handle the utility bills?" then suggest your preferred method.
posted by nomis at 9:23 PM on August 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

They are working on the house. I'd let it go.
Maybe have them pay for the trash collection since the work will generate some extra trash.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:25 PM on August 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks! a) they suggested it out of the blue; b) we don't need/want housesitters.

They asked via email and we said yes. That's true. No mention of $ from either side.
posted by tristeza at 9:26 PM on August 10, 2014

I would hate it if my landlord were to to stay in my place while I was away, and I think it was strange/crappy of them to ask in the first place. You certainly have my sympathies. However, I think you should let the monetary aspect of it go. You have already agreed, and the potential savings is not worth the possibility of them being irritated with you for asking. Keep in mind that you'd still be paying for many of those non-metered utilities whether the unit is occupied or not.

Having a good landlord/tenant relationship is, in my opinion, worth the $50 you might be able to claim.
posted by girl flaneur at 9:42 PM on August 10, 2014 [23 favorites]

Where in the house are they staying? Your bed? Weird. However, I would not ask for a reduction, but I would hope for either a thank you gift or a voluntary accommodation on their part. If they do it again, at that time I would ask saying something like you thought last time was a one off.
posted by 724A at 9:42 PM on August 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Let it go, the amount they would pay you is not worth asking for if you value the relationship you have with them. If they already give you a good deal on rent (month after month) and you like each other, don't get greedy for this one time thing. Do something nice for them and let them stay at your place - while they paint and improve it - for free.
posted by NoraCharles at 10:27 PM on August 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

No, the ship has sailed. The time to bring this up was before you said yes.
posted by Justinian at 11:00 PM on August 10, 2014 [15 favorites]

Also, since you mention it as part of your justification in your query, you would be paying for trash, water, electricity, and gas regardless of whether they stayed at your place. Most of the electricity bill comes from things like the refrigerator, which is why we all get a bill even when we leave for a month-long vacation. Day-to-day living, I believe, only adds pennies to the bill per day (unless you are running air-con or heat).
posted by RaRa-SpaceRobot at 11:47 PM on August 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

Sorry. Totally missed that girl flaneur already mentioned this.
posted by RaRa-SpaceRobot at 11:49 PM on August 10, 2014

Refrigerators and water heaters can be turned off when you're not using them, resulting in some savings.

Anyway, I would have asked them for a reduction on rent for that month, before the arrangement was made. Painting is just routine maintenance of their own property -- not a favor to you! My parents who have been landlords for years agree that this is very rude of them, and they owe you some sort of compensation. It might be late and a bit awkward for you to ask now -- but that's really your call depending on your personal vibes with them. It's DEFINITELY not out of line.
posted by redlines at 5:11 AM on August 11, 2014

Since you already said yes I agree with previous commenters, it is hard for you to ask for a significant amount, but I might just follow up to the email and say, "Hi, We're getting ready to write our rent check before we leave wanted to ask how you'd like to handle the days you'll be staying in the apartment. Should we just deduct (RENT/31x# of nights they'll be staying) from our September rent? Also, we'll leave a sheet out with the wifi password and other information you might need, and there will be clean sheets on the bed and fresh towels out for you." The ball is then in their court to say that no, they hadn't planned to pay anything to stay in your unit. Also, Rent/31 is actually a very modest expense compared to a hotel or other accommodations, so they should be comfortable with it.

It sounds like they caught you off-guard when you initially were asked, but I would NEVER say yes to this kind of request (I'm an adult, long-time renter and a very considerate, respectful renter that always receives 100% of my deposit back). This blurs the personal and professional relationship between you and your landlord in what appears to me to be an unacceptable way.

Also, no matter how considerate and respectful you are as a tenant, there is no way the landlords are not going to be poking around thinking "Oh I totally wouldn't have the dish drainer there," or whatever. I'm also assuming that because they'll be staying there, you will probably spend multiple hours cleaning that you wouldn't have otherwise done if you weren't expecting LANDLORD overnight guests while you were gone.

Next time say no. Your excuse can be anything you'd like, or nothing, the Emily Post/Metafilter response of "That won't be possible" is fine, as is "My brother is going to be staying there for part of the time".

This time? I'd still say no. I'd say "Hey I'm sorry about this, but I forgot Mr. Tristeza offered our apartment to his brother while we're gone. I'm not 100% sure he'll be there the entire time (this gives you the out if they comment they never saw him while they were painting) but unfortunately the apartment is not available."
posted by arnicae at 6:16 AM on August 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think at this point making sure they take care of any additional trash accrued from the home improvement costs would be what to ask for. The time to ask for a rebate on rent would have been when they asked. I guess you still could ask with a no expectations approach. "Hi landlord, I was wondering if we could get a slight rent reduction for the time you'll be staying here?"

But - given that you say they give you a nice rent etc etc, it might be worth it to let it go.
posted by edgeways at 6:16 AM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't ask for anything. The fact that they are going to have some painting done strikes me as a sign that they care for the place. They may notice some other minor things that need fixing up (it's easy to get used to some minor annoyances and become blind to them) and do so which would be to your advantage. Asking for money *now*, after you've agreed by email, would risk spoiling any good will they may otherwise feel...
posted by aroberge at 6:36 AM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

aroberge: They may notice some other minor things that need fixing up (it's easy to get used to some minor annoyances and become blind to them) and do so which would be to your advantage.

Yeah, I also wouldn't ask for money, but I might say, "While you are here painting, can you take a look at the squeaky stair and the leaky faucet?" or whatever other minor maintenance issues you may have.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:50 AM on August 11, 2014 [13 favorites]

They are having work done to the house at their cost for you while you are gone, that's good enough! I would also say what someone up thread said about making a list of other things they could "look at" while you are gone. Nothing crazy or unreasonable, but since they are there and seem to be using it in part to get some things done, it seems like a good opportunity to ask for those things to be fixed.
posted by katypickle at 7:44 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

They asked via email and we said yes.

I think you're all done, then, right? Before saying yes really would have been the time to ask for compensation.

Doing it now seems like it could cause bad feelings in your relationship with landlords who otherwise seem very good. (And I assume you understand that's something to value in and of itself.)
posted by aught at 8:07 AM on August 11, 2014

Look at it this way, you don't have to worry about the painters etc doing a good job as the landlord is their to supervise and you manage to avoid the right royal pain of living in the house while the painting etc is going on. You have a good landlord you like, as others have said it's worth sucking up 2 weeks utilities for and which without kids will probably still be less than you would have paid anyway.
posted by wwax at 8:33 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

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