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When Rental Rates Should Be Negotiated

As a Vancouver Washington area property manager, we get contacted (usually via e-mail) by prospective tenants asking us if the owner is willing to accept less than the listed rental rate. This question gets asked before the tenant even looks at the rental home.

I guess with the “new normal,” Groupon world we are living in, some might assume that consumers are not willing to look at something that isn’t drastically reduced; I don’t necessarily agree with this. However, it does bring up the question: How does a property manager answer such a query on an immediate price reduction? There are obviously two ways to do this.

First of all, let’s clarify what a “negotiation” is. A true negotiation is where both sides give something of value and, in turn, receive something in return. In this example, the property manager is offering a discount in rental rates in Vancouver Washington, and the tenant has not even committed to visiting the property (let alone filling out an application and putting down a deposit)!

This example is not a negotiation; it is a case of a fishing expedition. Or a game show called, “How Desperate is the Owner to Rent Out their Property?” So giving away rent money for nothing is an obvious no-go. The best answer to an immediate query about reducing the rent would be something along the lines of, “I’m not sure how the owners would feel about that. If you visit the property and are interested, it is certainly something I could ask them.”

Okay, this does risk alienating some people. However, if the rental price is close to market value, other renters will materialize. However, if the house has been on the market for a while, this may be a game you want to play. Proceed cautiously, so you don’t wind up throwing free lawn care and daily Bojangles biscuits in as well to close the deal.

What about if the tenants do look at the property, are interested, and then try to negotiate the rental price? If the owner is willing to reduce the rent, I think an argument could be made to do this; however, this would be only if the tenants are strong candidates. Residents who pay on time, keep the property in good shape and do not create problems for others are worth their weight in gold. If they do not fit this bill, I will decline any reduction in rent.

Rental rate negotiation may be subjective, but common negotiation rules still apply. Make sure you get when you give! No “quid” without “quo”!


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