Many of us approach the issue of rent as we would a restaurant menu – everything has a set, static price that must be paid. However, like at a market food-stall, there can be room for negotiation.
Landlords will be less likely to enter into a discussion of lowering rent if they know there are many alternative tenants willing to pay the original, higher cost, which means you will often have to seek an incentive for them to bargain with you.
So while it is more a possibility than a certainty, the rent quoted to you is nevertheless the most money the landlord is hoping to receive – so get haggling.
Below are helpful strategies that can assist your goals of rent reduction. The key is to communicate effectively and courteously and to push your value at any given opportunity.Consider the timing
Landlords operate according to a fixed schedule, with your rent usually due at the beginning or end of the month. If your move-in date falls just before the new lease is to be signed, you may get lucky in terms of negotiating a lower-cost deal as other tenants and subletters may have just recently announced plans to move out of their respective rented premises.
Landlords are operating a business and desire money, and if they are losing sources of income, a reduced rent is preferable to the impending reality of losing yet more tenants.
It is worth remembering that from June to September, university cities are filling up with students and internship workers who may have had little time to comparison shop, and thus many will agree to pay the higher cost originally requested.
It renders attempts to bargain more of a predicament at this time of year – an awful lot of students simply do not care whether they are being overcharged at a time of relocation and high stress. But challenging the cost is definitely worth a shot.Know the area
Acquire as much information as possible about the complex or building and rental rates in the vicinity. If you have a means of determining just how much current tenants are paying, as well as tenants in similar accommodation, your stance on negotiation will be stronger.
Comparison shop, and discuss alternative apartments and houses being rented for less with your potential landlord, using them as a springboard for approaching the topic of reduction. The more valid information you can present, the better your leverage.
Be prepared to move further from campus. For an extra 10 or 15 minutes commute, you can snatch up a property with the same, if not more, amenities as a centralised location – but with a lower cost.Show you're worth it
Landlords will have no doubt experienced nightmare tenants – especially in university towns and cities.
You will want to assert from the beginning that you will not be a problem, so even providing a reference from a former landlord, or a guarantor's letter from your guardians could work in you favour if the property you desire is available to “young professionals only”.
When mailing or speaking in person, show that you are mannerly and friendly- first impressions are incredibly important in all aspects of life, and when entering a business deal both parties need to feel secure in their choice.
If possible and if you are sure that you have found the perfect living space, offer to pay a few months’ rent upfront in exchange for a discount. After that, paying your month's rent early once in a while will continue to stick in your landlord's memory.
Be responsible from the beginning – always pay your rent on time. If you can't lower your rent initially, you definitely will struggle to do so later on with a history of late payments. It will work to your advantage if you prove that you will be and have been a source of reliable income, and as the best time to request a lower rent is before signing or renewing a lease.Home Improvements
Educate yourself on how to fix the most simple and common maintenance mishaps.
A leaking tap, loose doorknob, tightening screws and ensuring your accommodation doesn't become so much of a tip that insects swarm it, will attest to your reputation. Does the paintwork need a new cover? Paint is cheap and it's a fun activity when you call your friends around to help – but you will need to check with your landlord in advance for this one.
As well as promoting a sense of pride in your abode, it will be evident to others that you look upon the premises as a home, not a place to kip or pre-sesh.
When you opt to make these minor repairs, inform your landlord in a casual manner and do not ask for reimbursement. Remind them of your actions again when you are negotiating rent.
When there is a more serious or dangerous issue, for example no heating in winter, you are not responsible for this and claims should be put in writing, and state that the landlord has a set number of days to in which to remedy the matter. Three days for major and 14 for minor problems is acceptable. If these problems are not rectified, you may actually be able to terminate the lease agreement, so rent is certainly up for negotiation here.The art of conservation
Keep a jug of water in your fridge. Add a cup of water to your toilet water tank every once in a while, and buy a single serve kettle to cut down further on water wastage when making your cuppa.
Turn off lights when they're not needed, and get your dose of rest and relaxation with a walk about or pop to a friend's place instead of gluing yourself to Facebook. Trust me, when your time at college is nearing its end, you'll regret the online procrastinating and time-wasting, and wish for even more happy memories to take away with you.
Layer up instead of blasting the heating at the first sign of summer's end- cuddly clothes trap pockets of air and are more efficient at keeping body heat up anyway.
Watch for phantom loads – unplug appliances when not in use, as it greatly reduced electricity expenditure.
The fuller your fridge, the less time needed for it to run and stay cold. Freezing vodka and other spirits negates the need for ice, too!Be upfront
If all else fails, just be honest and tell your landlord you are struggling to afford the rent – and talk it out before you find yourself in a position of late payment.
It's not easy for anyone financially at the moment: Irish national rent rose by 2.2 per cent last year, and Government-distributed rent supplements were slashed. Property owners are well aware of this.
As we struggle on in the uphill battle, stay educated, aware and shrewd. Read the papers and become informed of the property markets, and check the property ads.
Take your time – don’t rush into accepting just any old dump. Nothing is set in stone until the lease agreement is signed. Every day new property becomes available – continue looking up MyHome.ie, accommodation ads posted via your college mail system, and liaise with the accommodation office. You will eventually find the right match.Got any hints of you own? Share them with us in the comments below.