I think trying to find a place to rent is one of the things I hate most in this world. I love it once you get to the moving in part, but the driving to open houses, filling out 10 million forms and knocking on every inch of wood that your application will stand out over everyone else’s just drives me insane.
Anyway, the thought of being able to negotiate the stupidly high prices I have to pay in my city for a teensy, probably mouldy, and certainly drafty place of residence. Not because they’re not obviously overpriced, just because I have this fear that if I did the landlord would just be like ‘thank you, next’.
Which is why I’m now genuinely in shock that when I asked Ray Ellis, the Chief Executive Officer of First National Real Estate, he basically said absolutely you can. Don’t I feel like an idiot.
“It’s always worth negotiating if you think the asking price is on the high side, no matter whether it’s Sydney or Scrub Creek,” Ray explained, “You never know the landlord’s circumstances and if you don’t ask, you don’t get.“
Ray says it’s especially likely there’s rent rate wriggle room (say that four times fast) if it’s been around a while.
“The length of time a rental property has been on the market is a key indicator. Consider asking the property manager how long the property has been vacant or pay attention to how far down the list of online advertisements that the property appears. That could indicate it has been some time.“
My next question, obviously, was whether you can launch right into negotiations or whether you should try and finesse/ sneak it in later in the process. Turns out real estate agents, much like the rest of us, do not like sneaky.
“Right at the beginning, ask the property manager if there’s any flexibility in the weekly rate,” says Ray, “The property manager will generally say they’ll speak to the owner on your behalf.“
Turns out it’s not just weekly rent you can negotiate either. Ray says you can try and work out a deal on things like garden maintenance, internet connections, pool maintenance, a lower rate if you pay it in advance, and maybe even water consumption.
But obviously, don’t just go in willy nilly. You want to back yourself up as a tenant they actually want to have, as well as some good reasons for why the rent should be decreased.
“References are everything,” he says, “A landlord may consider a slightly lower rent from a tenant that has A grade references.“
“Good references from former managing agents or landlords [are helpful]. It’s also wise to research what the current market is doing so you can back any offer you make with ‘like-for-like’ comparisons. If you have a pet, it’s vital to also take your pet references with you.“
Ummmm also, you know how you have to keep your online profile in check for job hunting, turns out the real estate is googling your arse too.
“It’s also very important to review your Facebook profile and make sure that if it is checked by the property manager or landlord, that it doesn’t weaken your position.“
So yeah, I’m shook and mentally calculating all the extra money I could have been saving on the shitboxes I’ve called homes.