real estate

Tips for getting your rent reduced

"It has become much more of a renter's market than it has been in the past," says Trosien. "All you have to do is pick up an apartment guide or go online and look at and you can see that there are all types of different incentives being offered in markets across the U.S."

However, she is skeptical that opportunities to negotiate are widespread. While she concedes individual landlords and smaller management companies may be willing to deal, she doubts reputable management companies will haggle.

"The federal Fair Housing Act pretty much says, what you do for one, you must do for all, so you can't (negotiate)," she says. "Just because the market is suffering doesn't mean you can walk in and bargain me into two months free because you're really persuasive."

She cautions that many dwellings loaded with incentives and offered at rock-bottom prices may carry their fair share of risk.

"(Renters) don't know if the condo's in foreclosure, they don't know if the condo association is solvent, they don't really know what's going on, and not that many cities have an act of legislation to protect renters' rights," she says.

Management companies and landlords don't like offering concessions, and those too eager to do so should raise suspicions, Trosien says.

“Just because the market is suffering doesn't mean you can walk in and bargain.”

"Owners don't particularly like to offer concessions because it lowers the value of the asset for that period of time that you're offering concessions," Trosien says. "So it's not something that owners want to participate in. But sometimes it's driven by the market."

Still, some landlords acknowledge that making the occasional concession may be in their self-interest over the long run.

Amy Ammen, who rents a condo she owns a half-block away from Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, cut rent for a good tenant and never looked back.

"As six months of her first term came to an end, (my tenant) told me that she was considering moving," Ammen says. "She was a very good tenant, I mean outstanding. Always paid her rent on time and I never had to do anything."

So Ammen offered to cut the rent on the condo from $1,180 a month to $1,000 a month. The tenant accepted and proceeded to give her three more trouble-free years of occupancy, during which Ammen steadily increased the rent to nearly the level it had originally gone for.

Eventually, the tenant moved back to Seattle, but in doing so left behind upgraded furniture and electronics that amounted to more than the concession Ammen had made.

"I would do it again in a heartbeat, given they proved themselves to be good tenants for the first term of their lease," Ammen says.


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