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My lease is up for renewal in the not so distant future. My landlord recently contacted me to say they want to increase my rent by 2%. Which is not itself much, but the rent was already pretty high. I am seeing comparable places for over 25% less than what I am pay now. (Maybe not quite as nice, but close and so much cheaper and other good reasons like closer to work.).

When my landlord first broached the topic with me of raise rent, they suggested maybe an increase of 4%, because a realestate agent had said that it was worth that. THey said they were not sure about it and asked what I thought. I said then that I would not be keen on that idea and that the rent was already on the higher side of what we were looking to pay.

My landlord is emailing me asking why i haven't replied to there latest email that said 2%.

I am wondering if I should reply saying that in full honesty we are considering out options and there are other places that are over 25% cheaper. Not that we have decided to move for sure yet. Or if I should just keep quite until I at least have another place lined up (maybe even until another lease is signed?)

Pros of telling landlord

  • I might get a offer of a rent reduction. This seems unlikely since they wanted to increase it, and it would need to be a big decrease; to be something lower than I am paying now.
  • Avoid the landlord giving us a bad reference because of being annoyed. Not sure if that is a thing in the UK.

Cons of saying:

  • Landlord might take offense at it and make our lives harder in various ways
  • Might burn the bridge, if we decide we do want to stay afterall, and might not be offered option to renew.
**Update:** for anyone watching at home, I did tell my landlord a few days after posting this. Landlord did not offer to reduce my rent, beyond the not increasing it by 2%. While I wouldn't say my landlord behavour after that point was professional it certainly wasn't malicious towards me, merely weird, but that landlord was always a quite weird. We wended up moving to a much nicer place on the metrics I care about, for 15-20% cheaper; and I believe my landlord relisted the place at 4% higher and found a tenant (at least they said they were going to, and i don't see it listed today). So all is well the ends well
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    Couldn't you just agree that a 2% increase in rent is reasonable, and then move out without renewing if you find a better place? Until you renew there is no binding agreement. Agreeing that a 2% increase in rent is reasonable is not even an offer to treat, much less a commitment to rent (which probably can't be verbal anyway). It's the best of both worlds for you, and if you end up ditching your current place you won't need the current landlord's reference. – Patrick87 Jun 26 at 18:16
  • yes, I can give all kinds of non-answers. – Lyndon White Jun 26 at 18:27
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    The real question is, would you like to stay, but for the increase in rent? When a tenant tells me that they would like to stay, but aren't interested in renewing at the increased rate, there's no reason for me to be upset. It's business. If they are a good tenant I'll negotiate, if I'd rather them gone anyway then I won't. – Hart CO Jun 26 at 19:13
  • @HartCO updated. Given how the going rate for other places i would be happy to move to is so much lower, me wanting to stay largely (but not completely) would depend on the the rent decreasing, rather than increasing. – Lyndon White Jun 26 at 19:32
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At some point, you have to discuss renewal with your landlord. Saying nothing about the rate increase and moving out does no good for you, you miss out on a chance to negotiate a better rate and also have the hassle of moving.

In my view, as a landlord, the earlier you communicate things the better. If you've already done the legwork to find alternatives that are substantially cheaper, present that information. "I'm interested in renewing, but I've found some comparable/adequate alternatives available for x% less than your proposed rate. If you are willing to accept £x/month I would be happy to renew." Be reasonable in your request, if an alternative is 20% cheaper then maybe try to negotiate for 10-15% reduction acknowledging that the alternative is not quite as nice and that moving carries some cost/hassle for you as well.

It doesn't hurt to ask, especially since you already expressed to them that current rent seemed a bit high. Most landlords understand, and will either sacrifice a bit of rent to keep you in the property or wish you well. It's not an argument, it's a negotiation, if they react poorly to a straightforward approach then you're better off not doing business with them in the future anyway. Whatever you decide, ignoring their inquiry doesn't help.

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This seems to be basically a "negotiation / language" question. I'd reply

Hi Steve. It's been a great stay but particularly with covid, rents are plummeting. As you know we now pay £500 a week. From Aug 1, honestly we could only offer £420 a week. I truly appreciate the difficulties of running a rental these days and I'm sure you want to move the price ahead! Unfortunately as much as we like the place and having you as landlord, I'd just be "throwing away" money paying more than about £380-£400 a week in current conditions. Please let us know ASAP if you can do £420, otherwise we'll move out on the 31st, with thanks for a great stay."

Don't forget in negotiations unless you can walk you have zero power.

That's the one and only, total, sum rule of negotiations; there's nothing else.

Enjoy!

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  • I like this for the most part, "rents are plummeting" sounds exaggerated even if rents are down in your area (they aren't in mine). Probably not a big deal, but can sometimes lead to a poor response. – Hart CO Jun 29 at 15:11
  • maybe "rents are down hard" – Fattie Jun 29 at 18:29
  • I'd just stick with facts and figures. If they have comparable units they could point to it carries a lot more weight than an unsupported and dramatic sounding assertion. But again, probably not a big deal to most people, I just know I don't respond well to such tactics. – Hart CO Jun 29 at 18:35
  • I really get what you're saying. The thing is, I'm assuming the OP will walk - as I often mention on this site (and the workplace one), the only negotiation, really, is if you can walk away. Really that particular sentence is just dressing (as you suggest). – Fattie Jun 29 at 20:16
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As part of your tenancy you should have a "notice period" for leaving the property which will need to be respected by both yourself and the landlord. Additional to this is the new law now in place that stops "no fault evictions".

Both of these mean you are free to tell your landlord that you are not willing to accept the higher price, and this won't have any negative repercussions on yourself. The absolute worst that might happen, if the landlord thinks he can get the higher price, is that they give you notice and ask you to move out. Typically your notice period will probably be 1-2 months so this will give you at least some time to find another place.

If you have a fixed term assured tenancy agreement that quotes the price (with no provisions to change the price during the tenancy) then be aware that the landlord almost certainly can't change the price at this point anyway, they will have to wait until you come to negotiate a new tenancy. Equally, if you want to move out, but are still in a fixed term assured tenancy then you will be liable for the rent until the end of your tenancy period.

So to summarise: it would be illegal for the landlord to evict you for negotiating the price, and if the worst comes to the worst you will have at least 1-2 months notice to find another property if you can't come to an agreement. So go for it.

Also, the costs and hassle involved in finding a new tenant (if the landlord employs an agency, finding a new tenant could cost over £400-500), coupled with the risk at this time with Covid that you may not find a tenant very quickly (and the flat could be un-occupied for months) means that you can probably afford to be a bit firmer with your response, as the landlord would, I'm sure, prefer to keep you than to lose you. But that's a risk you'll have to take in negotiations.

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