Negotiating rent from the driver's seat

Written by: Vivek Jacob
June 4, 2021
Negotiating rent from the driver's seat

It’s last call for negotiating the lowest rent possible in years! Seriously, while year-over-year numbers are still lower across the GTA, we are seeing the first signs of an uptick in month-to-month changes in 2021. The province of Ontario is on the road to recovery in its battle against COVID-19 but as more people get vaccinated and restrictions start to ease, prices will start to rise again.

This is definitely a conversation with your landlord that can be abrupt and uncomfortable if you don’t have a game plan going in other than to ask for a decrease but that’s why we’re here, to help you sound like you’ve done this before!

Know your market

Your landlord will have no choice but to respect -- and might even appreciate -- you doing your own homework. For example, rental prices in Toronto are down 14.7 percent from last May to this. Look at the first step towards lowering your rent as an elevator pitch and be ready to hit them with the facts. Look for places similar to yours in terms of location and square footage to emphasize your point on what the going rate is now. Go into the first conversation expecting your landlord to find ways to disagree and say no, have the mindset that you are going to change their mind.

Be real about Plan B

If initial conversations about reducing your rent don’t work, don’t give up yet. If reducing how much you’re paying by anywhere from 10-25 percent means that much to you, show your landlord you’re willing to move to make it happen. This would bring to surface the fact that if the landlord now has to find a new tenant, they’ll have to do so at current market prices. It would also mean the possibility of the landlord having to pay the realtor an entire month’s worth of rent as commission. 

Landlords want certainty

Play to your strengths. Just like anyone in these times, landlords are looking for some level of certainty and assuredness. Have you been the type of tenant that would be difficult to replace? Are you able to commit to a longer term? Was your job un-impacted by COVID-19? Are you able to pre-pay more now to save in the long run? That type of stability could be music to your landlord’s ears so make sure to play them up if they apply to you.

Now that you know your hand, be bold in playing it. You obviously want to go about this in a civil manner that encourages the landlord to want to keep you around, but know that these rare market conditions mean that you have an advantage in negotiations. Maintain that poker face and have no fear if they try to call your bluff!

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