How to negotiate with your landlord

There may be times when you need to negotiate with your landlord. Whether it’s negotiating a proposed rent increase or trying to get them to do some repairs, it’s all the same skills. Check out our tips for getting the most out of it.
Woman in headscarf standing at the door of her house

1. Know your rights

Before you begin negotiating, make sure you know what your rights are. The Shelter website is a good place to start. This information will help you know what you must do and the limits on what you can expect from your landlord. Check what your tenancy agreement says but don't assume it has got the law right or tells you everything there is to know.

If you are negotiating about an increase in your rent, make sure you have researched the rental price of similar sized properties in the area. You can do this using property websites.

2. Have a plan

Plan what you are going to ask for and how. Anticipate your landlord's objections or potential problems and think about how you might respond to them. For example, if a rent increase seems unavoidable, do you want to ask for some of your household bills to be included within the rent or for your landlord to carry out some repair work in return? If your landlord agrees to any work, get it in writing and set a deadline.

Remember to remind your landlord what a good tenant you are - for example, how well you have looked after their property, how you pay your rent on time, and cause no trouble for the neighbours etc. Landlords are often keen to avoid having to find new tenants, as this often means they lose a few weeks rent while the property is empty.

Having a plan can help you remember what you want.

3. Be flexible

You may need to be flexible at certain points in a conversation with your landlord or their letting agent. For example, perhaps you want them to redecorate 4 walls following some repairs but they are only offering to redecorate 2 walls. Maybe you can agree on 3 or ask them to give you the paint so that you can redecorate the rest of the room? Decide in advance what you are willing to compromise about, and how far.

4. Be calm, confident and assertive

Some landlords can be hostile or dismissive, even aggressive. Stay calm and try not to let yourself be intimidated.

5. Ask questions

If your landlord or their letting agent presents you with new information or options, don’t be afraid to ask questions until you are confident you understand what has been said. Don’t agree to anything until you are sure you know what it means.

6. Know when to walk away

You may need to end the negotiation in order to do more research, speak with your housemates, or think about your options more carefully without pressure. If the negotiation is starting to get out of hand and feel stressful, it may be best to end the conversation and try again another time.

If you reach an agreement you are happy with, be charming and thank them. Don't be petty or try for more when you've got the result you wanted. Chances are you will need to negotiate with them again at some point.

Can you spare a few minutes?
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October 2016

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