I can say from personal experience, if you are a good tenant, this will almost definitely work. In a recession you need to learn how to best use the economic climate to your advantage.

From a landlord’s point of view, less rent on a reliable basis is a much better bet than having to spend a bunch of money to get your apartment ready for new tenants only to end up taking less money anyway from tenants that have an unproven track record.

WSJ’s Mary Pilon shared a great letter she used on her landlord to get $300 knocked off her rent after she found out her new neighbors were paying $300 less than her and her roommates.

To Whom It May Concern:

We’re writing in regards to the renewal of our lease at [insert your address here].

On [date you moved in], we [names of tenants] moved into a unit in the aforementioned property. Since then, property values in Manhattan [replace with your city or neighborhood] have declined by 5.6% for two-bedrooms units, much more steeply than the nationwide drop of 0.4%. Further, apartment vacancies overall rose to 6.6% in the quarter from 5.7% a year earlier. [I used footnotes here to cite the WSJ story. I suggest also putting in data about your local market from local papers, etc..] Economists and real estate experts predict the decline to continue through 2009-2010.

In our building, that has meant facing an empty unit for several months. Units similar to ours have been rented in recent months to tenants with credit scores and incomes lower than ours at even cheaper rates than what we’ve paid. A rent hike seems inconsistent with recent market conditions and unfair to paying tenants like us with flawless records.

We’ve confirmed that a unit nearly identical to ours is renting at $2,350 a month for a one-year lease. We ask that our lease, at the least, should match that. This would satisfy your interest in keeping our unit occupied and our interest in staying in our apartment at a reasonable rate. Ideally, a discount would be lowering our rent to $2,100 a month for a one-year lease. [At first, I thought this was too bold, but I’m glad I started low.]

As one property manager recently told The Wall Street Journal: “If they’re good payers, we will give them a discount.” Here we are, good payers, asking for a reasonable discount. The $50 off our current rate [original manager] and Ms. Pilon spoke about is inconsistent with other rates in our building and current market activity and projections.

We look forward to continuing the conversation and hearing from you shortly.

Sincerely,
[Names and contact information of tenants here]

You can read the WSJ article here to find out more about how Pilon handled her landlord.

Landlord’s are feeling the pinch too. Believe it or not you’re in a great position to leverage the economy to help yourself get through these difficult times.

Has anyone else had success with getting their rent reduced or any other tips to save some money during the recession? Let us know in the comments.

Photo courtesy of Zach K/Flickr

Posted by James Poling

A socialist, tinkerer, thinker, question asker and all around curiosity seeker. If you'd like to reach me you can use the contact link above or email me at jamespoling [at] gmail [dot] com.

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