The Ultimate Guide to Negotiating Your Rent To Save Money

What a lot of people don’t realize is that rent prices aren’t fixed: there are a number of tactics you can use to negotiate yourself a better deal. In fact, a lot of landlords and letting agents start by listing their properties at higher prices than they’d accept, in anticipation of having it negotiated. 

At the end of the day, if you don’t ask you don’t get. But there are distinct ways to go about this. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s simply not going to work; if you come out looking cheeky, and antagonize your landlord – heck – you might even end up landing yourself a worse deal.  

Be rational, be polite, and most importantly, be specific. You can’t just rock up and say the place is too expensive, hoping the landlord will read your mind and offer you a more attractive number. Come up with your own weekly or monthly figure: if you’re dealing with a proposed rate of £700 a month, say, ‘I’ll take the flat for X months at £600 a month’. (They might not agree off the bat, but that’s where the haggling begins). 

Semantics alone, of course, aren’t enough. You need to build a strong, convincing argument to support your case: that’s what the bulk of this article will help you with.  

Understand the difference between disputing and negotiating your rent

Disputing your rent

If you think your rent is outright unjust, and none of the tips in this article can make your landlord budge, you can apply to a tribunal to open a dispute in certain circumstances. There are rules for how and when your landlord can propose rent increases, so if you think these aren’t being abided by, you should think about applying.

If it’s a rent increase you want to dispute, you can only apply to the tribunal if:

    • You have an assured or assured shorthold tenancy (Shelter’s tenancy checker can help you determine what kind of tenancy you have)
    • Your rent’s been increased as part of a ‘section 13 procedure’ – the letter from your landlord will say if it has, and will tell you more about applying to the tribunal

You must apply before the new rent is due to start. 

Alternatively, if you think your rent is high when you start a tenancy, you may still be able to apply to the tribunal. Contact the Leasehold Advisory Service for advice.

You must apply within 6 weeks of moving in.

For more details concerning rent disputes, refer to the website. 

Negotiating your rent

Negotiating your rent has more of a view to getting yourself the best deal that you can. In other words, it’s a you problem. 

To successfully negotiate your rent, you need strong and persuasive reasoning and you need to deal directly with the landlord. The other option would be a letting agent, but we wouldn’t advise it. Letting agents have their place in the industry, but if saving cash is our prime objective here, it’s a simple matter: cutting out the letting agent simply means less fees and less faff for everyone involved. 

Sadly, you can’t just ask for a rent decrease if you’re struggling financially—but see if you’re eligible for Housing Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance if this is the case.  

Nor is said ‘negotiation’ a mechanism for trying to fleece your landlord, or pay less than the property’s worth: in a nutshell, negotiating your rent comes down to earning that rent decrease. 

So how do you do that? Here goes. 

Research the current rental market where you live

This is absolutely critical. If you’re proposing a lower rent price, you need to know what the property is worth; to know that, you have to know what other landlords are charging for similar-sized homes with comparable features in the same area. All this information can be found on the Internet, and you can ask around too. Present this as evidence when you approach your landlord to negotiate rent.  

You also need to know what the demand is like in your local area. If it’s possible that the landlord might have a difficult time finding a new tenant, this is considerable incentive for them to want you to stay. The same applies if you’re a new tenant, too. If demand is low, they’ll be grateful to find someone—therefore (hopefully) willing to negotiate.  

In theory, if you’re a new tenant, you could even pick a few properties that suit your needs and pit the landlords against each other to see who can go lowest.  

Pay in advance

The first and foremost worry of landlords everywhere is that tenants will not be able to pay their rent, whether this means on time or at all. Any tenant that can lift this worry from their shoulders by paying in advance will be seriously valued. 

Paying in advance means your landlord can rest assured he/she needn’t worry about you falling behind on payments, or handle the difficult (and expensive) procedure of having you evicted for your failure to cough up. It’ll serve as good evidence of how dependable you are, plus it will guarantee your commitment to the property for a set amount of time. It costs a landlord a lot to change tenants (which we talk more about below), so if they can hold you down, it’s a win in their books. 

Obviously, with rent in London set so high, not everyone has thousands of pounds lying around to do this with. But in theory, the more you pay in advance, the more you can try and negotiate off your rent. This means you’ll save more in the long run—so it’s worth considering. 

Consider what else you can offer

    • The key thing here would be leasing for more than a year. Changing tenants frequently is a huge cost to the landlord: there are empty months, marketing andreferencing fees; they have to clean everything and repair things in between leases, and there’s the risk each time they find someone knew that they might cause trouble.  
      • If you’re able to commit to a property for over a year – perhaps two, or even three – this is a valuable factor. Agree to a longer-term lease (if you haven’t already signed one) and you might be able to shed some pounds off your monthly rent. 
    • On the matter of financial security, you could also offer to pay a higher deposit.
    • If you can move in immediately, that’s another incentive for a landlord, and could be a good bargaining factor. 
    • If you’re not in a position to be paying in advance, and a longer-term lease doesn’t quite cut the mustard, you could enquire about taking on extra responsibilities in exchange for a slightly cheaper rent. For example, garden or courtyard maintenance. 
      • As a matter of law, your landlord must be responsible for certain duties, and these cannot be transferred. Read more about that here.

Make a case for yourself as a model tenant

This is admittedly an easier feat if you’re dealing with a landlord with whom you’ve already done business, but references can go a long way too: if they have it on good authority that you pay your rent on time, you’re clean and respectful of the property, you don’t smoke inside or make unreasonable noise, you get along with your neighbours and you don’t keep pets that aren’t allowed, then you’re a valuable tenant.   

A good credit rating never goes amiss, too, so if you’ve got one, flaunt it. This will show you’re a responsible grown-up. 

Use anything you can to prove what a top guy/girl you are and the landlord might just decide that it’s worth lowering the rent to have (or keep) you. Their alternative would be going back to square one with a different tenant who could be absolutely pants. 

Use the property’s flaws to your advantage

Not every property on the market is in perfect condition. Lord knows that if the property is a new build, or if it’s been newly refurbished, the landlord or letting agent will push this to extract as much rent as they possibly can. So if it’s older – maybe the interior is out-dated, or there’s poorer insulation and thus higher bills – use this as leverage to negotiate your rent. 

Parking space is another one. If the landlord fails to provide parking in or around the building, use it to support your case.

Of course, there should always be standards for the place you call home, and if the place has too many serious flaws we’d advise you to find another property. But if it’s stuff you can live with, make a list and present it to your landlord. Bear in mind they may have already taken certain things into account in the rent price they’ve set.

Happy haggling!