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I'm moving to London soon and I'm trying to figure out how much higher, roughly are rent listings than the final rent landlords are expecting.

Let's take as an example a 1-bed flat in East London which is GBP 1,300 per month. Would you only negotiate if the flat was smaller or lower quality than other, similar flats? Or do landlord typically list the rent a bit higher than they expect to get in the end?

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    East London is a very big area. Give specific areas. And the higher probability is the agent will ask you to move on. London is more or less a landlord's market. and you should expect to pay what they demand. But you might get lucky sometimes. – DumbCoder Jan 22 '18 at 16:24
  • have a look at this page, it contains average rent per week in given area. that might give you idea how much you could try to negotiate – user902383 Jan 23 '18 at 13:35
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    Thanks, I think you forgot to link the page however – Vale Jan 23 '18 at 14:48
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In the UK, you should usually expect to pay the listed rental price - and most people, in my experience, do - but you can sometimes negotiate a lower price. The degree to which it is possible to do so depends on local levels of demand. Demand in London is usually very high so I would expect your chances of negotiating the rental price down is slim.

In addition to rent, you will likely also be stung for rip-off estate agent fees, and you will usually need to pay an amount equal to one month's rent as a deposit. By law, this must be deposited into a deposit protection scheme that is independent of the landlord and usually means you will get it back either in full or with a fair level of deductions for damages.

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    +1. This and the question from awhile back about approaching landlords directly instead of using tenancy agents has me wondering how people go about renting outside of the UK. I've never heard of anyone even thinking to negotiate down their rent (and can't imagine it succeeding unless something was seriously wrong with the property), nor getting past tenancy agents when they're involved (as a whole part of their job is to keep a level of separation between the tenant and owner). – Philbo Jan 22 '18 at 15:15
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    I'm a renter in London and I agree. Good places - the places you'll actually want to live - move fast and if you're not prepared to pay what they're asking then someone else will. Regarding rip-off estate agents, I'll never use one again. My landlord is private and I paid no fees and he offered to waive the need for a deposit if I provided a guarantor (supposedly the requirement to use a DPS is a hassle). – Michael Jan 22 '18 at 17:52
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    If you do go directly to a private landlord make sure to extensively research them. There are plenty opportunities to scam you. Your "landlord" subletting to you, collecting your rent and paying nothing to the actual property owner is the most obvious one. – Darren H Jan 23 '18 at 6:22
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    @Michael Using a DPS in the UK is a legal requirement to let a property on an assured shorthand tenancy so your landlord is technically breaking the law (gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection) – RobV Jan 23 '18 at 11:33
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    @RobV No, he is not breaking the law. The deposit only needs to be in a DPS if there's a deposit but there is no requirement to have a deposit so the Landlord is free to rent without one. – Jack Aidley Jan 23 '18 at 12:46
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This varies heavily depending on area and price point, but overall the current market London is heavily in favour of tenants in most areas contrary to most opinions. Current rental yields in most of London are sub 1.5% for landlords pre costs, so there is generally a lot of competition to secure good, long term tenants as it's so easy and cheap to rent for people vs buying (note this is cheap purely in yield terms vs buying - London rents are still pretty eye watering for most: its just that buying is even more eye watering).

It's also worth noting that London (and the UK in general) is a heavily saturated market of relatively unastute, baby boomer investors fearful of stocks, poor at calculating depreciation costs and who have only really seen a property bull market, who continue to think property is a great bet and continue to pile in pretty much regardless of the actual realities of the rental market, which heavily contributes to these very low yields.

As a result, Seeking out landlords fitting this profile will get you much better results than professional groups/players with 10+ properties who will be much more ruthless and yield savvy. Also looking for properties that have been on the market for a while often pays dividends - always remember landlords lose huge amounts on empty properties and will often take large reductions to fill something sitting idle - particularly if they have mortgage payments going out.

Once a reasonable place is identified, the general two key tactics when negotiating are:

  • stress you are a very clean, low maintenance tenant. Ask if they could recommend a good cleaner etc, discuss how bad some tenants can be in terms of long term damage/upkeep. Stress you really like the property but sadly can only afford x. You'd be surprised how much a good impression and acknowledgement and empathy with the problems they can face can make on a landlord.

  • negotiate long term rent freezes for subsequent years. Many London landlords are more than happy to agree to long term tenants at frozen prices for year 2/3, and often for 3+ years in renewals if the first period goes well. Also note this effect generally rises the better and longer you have been there - do a year plus in a property, never call for maintenance and keep it clean, and you can often negotiate rent decreases in the right areas (particularly places where new to market equivalent properties are the same price you are currently paying - it is very easy to just say you prefer the look of the other local place at the same price and you have a very strong position).

It's also worth noting that doing this well is quite a lot of effort and requires a fair amount of legwork/planning, hence why a lot of people just pay the asking price and move in as soon as they need to. Most of the people who think London is a hard place to rent are just people who don't do any research, fail to plan their moving times well and in advance, or are just terrible at holding their ground in negotiations, so don't expect much back if you don't put much in.

  • current market London is heavily in favour of tenants You dreaming. London ain't so, unless you are very lucky. The dealing tactics you mention of, won't get you a place in the prime London areas, maybe a bit father from Central London but that depends. – DumbCoder Jan 22 '18 at 16:27
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    Can't really argue with a statement this broad and with this little substance. – Philip Jan 22 '18 at 16:59
  • Your generalized answer without any proof and more hearsay doesn't deserve much I would say. And your negotiating tactics prove that you have never ever rented a house/flat in London, atleast not in the past 5-6 years. Good luck trying your methods in London. And the person who up-voted you might not have had much experience of the renting market in London. – DumbCoder Jan 22 '18 at 17:03
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    I've lived in London for fifteen years, owned 3 bed rental properties thoughout East London, rented from studios to two bed apartments in zone one across North, South and West London and continue to own and rent property in London within zone 3 and 1. I'd also add that you still haven't added anything of substance to this - can you for example, find a single zone of London yielding say, 4% on average? What do you estimate yearly depreciation to be on a 3 bed London terraced house say? – Philip Jan 22 '18 at 17:18
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    @yjo would also note that source is a valuation service with a clear conflict, and is most likely highly biased: particularly with their own vague proprietary model that can spit out anything. – Philip Jan 23 '18 at 17:14
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If demand for property is strong, the landlord may not be willing to negotiate. However, that's not to say you can't get a discount, especially if demand is weak (although that might suggest the property is overpriced to start with). I've twice asked for (and been given) a lower rent and once negotiated lower agent fees.

Your negotiating position will be stronger if the property is already vacant and you can move in quickly, or if the property is currently occupied and you want to move in fairly quickly after the current tenants are planning to vacate. Neither the landlord, nor the agent, make money on an empty property. Having examples of similar properties priced more more cheaply or even similarly may also you help negotiate the rate down.

If you look at sites such as Rightmove, you can see how long the property has been listed for and if the price has been reduced already.

Even without the above, sometimes a cheeky offer will be accepted if it isn't too far off the asking price. If you don't ask you won't get. However, unless the property is obviously overpriced or has some issue with it which would put off other prospective tenants, I wouldn't expect too much.

Agents are usually very reluctant to reduce their fees (they'd rather the landlord took a reduced rent!). Most times I've asked it's been refused (and I've walked away from properties as a result), with some agents incredulous that I would even ask, but as mentioned above, once I was successful.

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    "If you don't ask you won't get." OTOH, when we rented out our two bed house in Cambridge, we had about three prospective tenants to consider. Anyone who had "made a cheeky offer" would have been tossed straight in the bin. In the event it was a hard choice, and our first choice had actually already signed another contract by the time we made our mind up. Our second choice has been a great success though. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Jan 22 '18 at 20:23
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Negotiation is most possible when there is a single prospective buyer for a single item; in such a case, neither party can complete the transaction with anyone else, and so the price is heavily influenced by negotiation skills. On the other hand, when there are many similar buyers seeking similar goods from multiple sellers, then a well-established market develops, and the price is set by the overall market rather than negotiation between any two particular parties. The stock market is a prime example: at any particular time, there is well-known "market price" that is set by the stock exchange. Ther is no room for "negotiation"; either you buy/sell at the market price, or your order doesn't go through. If you submit an order to buy at a price significantly lower than the market price, then unless there's a sudden crash, the market will simply ignore your order, and sellers will instead sell to one of the thousands of people willing to pay market prices.

So for your question, there are three questions to ask: How many similar buyers are there (and how similar are they)? How many similar units does this seller have? How many other sellers with similar units are there?

Unless you can think of something that really sets you apart from other renters, the answer to the first question probably is "thousands". If you're renting from a large company, the answer to the second question is probably "hundreds", if not "thousands". And unless there's something really unique about the unit, the answer to the third question is also probably "hundreds" or "thousands". So there's probably not much negotiation to be had, unless you can offer something the landlord finds valuable. For instance, some landlords might give you a discount if you sign a multiple year lease, or put up six months rent in advance, etc.

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    This is a good argument for "you won't get a flat below market value", but ti says nothing about whether the listed price is the market value. The OP is wondering whether the system is that a flat is listed at 5-10% more than the market value, in the expectation that a renter will try and negotiate down from it. If a landlord knows that all buyers try to negotiate down, then he'll put it on for more than it's worth, in order to achieve its worth. This behavior is common in house sales in the UK, it's a sensible question as to whether it applies to rentals too. – AndyT Jan 23 '18 at 10:14
  • @AndyT thank you, generally answers have gone into HOW you negotiate; overall the feedback is appreciated though. From the answers I can pretty much tell that landlords are generally expecting to get what they post and that there may be some room to negotiate but not significantly - say at most you might lower a 1,500 to a 1,400 – Vale Jan 23 '18 at 14:55

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