Can you negotiate cheaper rent?

Renting a property in Australia can be expensive. The good news is, in some situations, there is room for negotiating cheaper rent.

From changing rental prices to market trends and even pandemics that affect people on a widespread scale, there are situations where it’s appropriate to ask for cheaper rent.

Whether you’re considering asking your current landlord or prospective landlord for cheaper rent, you need to be prepared with research and a strategy to increase your chances of success.

It’s worth noting that if you put an offer forward to negotiate cheaper rent to a real estate agent, they must take it to the landlord for consideration and a decision.

How to get cheaper rent?

Like anything in life, if you’re considering asking for cheaper rent, it pays to be prepared, do your research and go into with a plan.

Here are the things you should consider before asking for cheaper rent.

1. Do your research on rental prices in the area

If you’re going to request cheaper rent, make sure you go into the situation armed with information that could support your case. This could include showing evidence there are similar properties in the area at lower prices, proof that prices have been dropping in the area, or you could even lookup the percentage of vacant properties in your area.

Another thing you might want to keep track of and show evidence of is if the property has been on the rental market for an extended period of time – this could also give you some negotiating power.

2. Check your rental agreement

Before you begin negotiating, ask yourself how far you’re willing to go. If your landlord won’t meet your price expectations, are you ready to terminate the lease early and move elsewhere? If so, make sure you read over your lease agreement first.

Breaking a lease can cost thousands of dollars, and you don’t want to jeopardise your bond. It’s essential to understand how much money is at stake before jumping ship (or threatening).

It is possible to terminate a lease early, provided that you and your landlord come to a mutual agreement first. If this is the case, make sure to get any deals around liability or cost in writing.

3. Be prepared with exactly what you’re going to ask for

Once you’ve done your research and checked your rental agreement (if you’re asking your existing, not potential landlord), you now need to decide how you’re going to approach them and what you want to ask for.

You might want to write a letter or request a video call, where a face-to-face meeting isn’t appropriate. Either option is fine.

Then make sure you go in with the same discount you are thinking of, research that supports this discount and is prepared with what you are willing to negotiate on. For instance, your landlord might agree to the deal if you are eager to sign a longer lease. Anticipate this and figure out where you are willing to compromise before you approach the request.

The complete guide for first-time renters

So, you’ve finally decided to move out of the family home and rent a house. There is lots of fun to be had in being a first-time renter, but it pays to be organised and have a good understanding of the market.

Hunting for the perfect rental is the fun part, but once you find the property, things start to get serious, and you will have to be organised if you want to beat other potential tenants and impress the landlord.

Here, we’ve compiled the ultimate first-time renters cheat sheet that will tell you what you need to know before you sign on the dotted line.

 

Finding a rental property to inspect

When looking for a place to rent, it’s a good idea to sit down and make a “must-have” list so you can make sure you find the right place. 

If you’re interested in a rental, you’ll need to start by either making an appointment to view the place or attend at the advertised time it’s open for inspection.

If you are a first-time renter, you should prepare your application early so that you can apply as soon as you find the right house, as this is often the difference between securing a rental and missing out.

It’s good practice to have spare digital and physical copies of all the documents you need to include in an application, including identification, phone bills, and payslips. 

These prove who you are, show that you have a stable income, and help to show that you’re capable of looking after rental property.

Of course, references will also be necessary. This is why you should line them up well before any inspections and let them know that a property manager or landlord may call once you’ve applied. 

As a first time renter, you do not have a rental history, so choose credible and relevant referees. A boss or colleague is often a good choice.

Inspect the property

It may sound like an obvious step, but some first-time renters hunt for a house online and fail to inspect the property before signing a lease, only to find their dream rental property is a dud.

Renters should visit a property at least once to check:

  • the property is not damaged
  • the garden is maintained
  • all current appliances, including ovens and heaters, are working
  • the number of bedrooms is as stated.

Inspecting a rental also allows you to get to know the agent and ask them for tips on putting together a winning rental application, which could put you ahead of the competition. 

What is a residential tenancy agreement?

If you are successful, a landlord will want you to sign a contract known as a residential tenancy agreement or a “lease”. 

This may feel daunting for first-time renters, but you must have a legal contract between you, the tenant, and your landlord. 

Why is a residential tenancy agreement inessential to what should outline?

  • the amount of rent and how it is to be paid
  • the length and type of tenancy
  • the amount of bond required
  • details on what will happen if you break the lease or ask to leave before the agreement expires
  • special terms related to pets and cleaning requirements 
  • other conditions and rules.

What is a bond?

When signing the contract, you will be asked for a bond, a deposit that serves as security for the landlord or owner, if you don’t meet the terms of your lease.

Your landlord may claim some or all of the bond for cleaning, repairs, or replacement of missing items at the end of your agreement.

The bond and rent are separate payments, and you will often be asked to pay a certain amount of rent up front.

You cannot use any part of the bond as rent, which means when you sk the landlord to deduct your final rental payment from your bond.

In Vict when you move outoria, the bond is paid to the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA), where it is held in trust until the end of your residential tenancy agreement.

What is a condition report?

A condition report is a document that notes the state of the property when you first move in.

The landlord or owner must prepare a condition report for you to check and sign within days of moving into your home. It should include detailed information on the condition of the property’s walls, doors and floors, and cover existing damage or issues with any furniture and appliances.

Take photos before you move in to help record the property’s original condition.

The condition report is important because it can be used as evidence if there is a dispute about who should pay for cleaning, damage or replacement of missing items at the end of the agreement. This means it’s very important that you and the landlord agree on the contents of the condition report before signing it.

Landlords can claim a portion of your bond if you fail to leave the property in the same condition as when you moved in. They must, however, account for wear and tear.

5 ‘d’oh!’ renter moments and how to avoid them

We spoke to five current renters, each with their own ‘d’oh moment’ story to tell.

Here’s what you can learn from their mistakes.

1. Not protecting your stuff

“I once had my laptop stolen while I wasn’t home,” Alex, who was renting in Melbourne at the time, says.

“I shared the house with my partner, and we don’t know if someone snuck in while he was taking out the bins or if someone came in through the window. We lived on an allin which had the odd sketchy character there. Fortunately the laptop was all they took.”

The risk of theft is apparent in any home, whether you rent or own. Avoid getting stung by the unexpected costs of replacing items by getting contents insurance in advance of moving into your rental for all your belongings – including those most precious to you.

As well as covering for the loss or damage to your belongings, You Contents Insurance will also provide other benefits. It offers temporary accommodation, cover while you move and counselling sessions if you’re involved in an insured event where a claim is accepted.

2. Not hooking up your utilities

You might think this is a hard one to forget, but it can happen!

“It was the first time I’d ever lived alone and had my lease — I just didn’t know I had to organise my energy account!” Sydney renter Rebecca shares.

“When I moved in everything was operational, my electricity was on and so I just thought, ‘oh, sweet; how easy’. Months went by, and no questions or bills arrived, so I just assumed it was all included.”

It wasn’t, though, was it?

“It caught up with me eventually. The energy company came a-knocking wondering how I’d ‘stolen’ all this electricity. So, naturally, I had to pay it all back.”

Even if you don’t get by on months of ‘free’ electricity, you also don’t want to spend your first nights or weeks without energy or internet. Get connected before you arrive.

3. Incorrectly informing your movers

Extra moving costs can bite hard, and they usually occur if you haven’t properly measured or accounted for all your belongings before the move.

From moving company Mural, Andrew says he has countless anecdotes of people purposefully, or accidentally, failing to note their contents correctly and being left with a truck that’s too small or a job that can’t be done for the original quote.

Adding an extra truck or trip to your move can cost a pretty penny at the last minute. Make sure you’ve triple checked the list of items and included their correct size in your quote form to the removalist.

4. Putting in notice before finding a new place

You’re required to give fair notice to your current landlord when planning to move out (check your state’s tenancy laws for the specific notice period). However, you don’t want to jump the gun and give notice before actually finding your next home.

“This happened to me as I was desperate to leave a rental,” Alice from eastern Sydney shares. “But when my relative’s accommodation offer fell through, I had to stay on a friend’s couch while going to work during the day and spending night after night at inspections. It was stressful.”

Her advice?

“You may have to pay double rent for a short period. But make peace with this as it’s far better than being homeless while you frantically look for a place!”

5. Missing key locational facts

There are a variety of neighbourhood noise complaints that can arise unexpectedly. However, few are as shocking – or perhaps as loud – as being under a flight path.

“First night in my new apartment, I turn my lights off, settle in for sleep and boom, this plane roars right over our heads,” Sydney renter Ollie tells realestate.com.au.

“I hadn’t noticed until that point, but in the silence of night when you’re all settled down, it comes as quite the shock. I immediately just went, ‘oh no’.”

The moral of the story here is don’t forget to do a thorough scout of the location of your property and visit it multiple times before making the decision to move in.

So there you have it, five rental blunders and how to avoid them. As you can see, it always pays to listen to your fellow renter and learn from them, so get chatting to your friends and family who’ve done it all before.

House tenants’ rights when your landlord is selling

It’s the news no happy tenant wants to hear: the landlord is selling. 

As with most change, though, it’s a lot less frightening when you know what to expect.

Here are five rules to remember when your landlord decides to sell.

1. The landlord is allowed to sell at any time

In all states and territories, landlords are legally allowed to sell their property whenever they like. But fear not: the law protects tenants from being turfed out on a whim.

2. Your lease is still valid

According to Amy Sanderson, LJ Hooker’s head of property investment management, your current lease (which is also known as a tenancy agreement) remains valid when your landlord puts their property on the market. And it remains so after the sale, which means you don’t have to move out of the property if it changes hands.

“A landlord cannot terminate a fixed-term agreement for the sale of the property,” Sanderson says.

And so if the property is sold to an investor who a tenanted property, it’s possible you will experience very few changes.

However, Sanderson explains that it can also lead to a termination of the leasedeciding if mutual consent is reached.

“If you are on a fixed-term agreement, but you want to move out because the property is being sold, you may be able to end the tenancy agreement early by a mutual consent with the landlord,” she says.

If the new owner wants you to move out, they must comply with the terms of the existing lease.

3. Landlords must give tenants notice before an inspection … and you can be there

The landlord must give the tenants 14 days’ notice before the first viewing.

Meanwhile, Sanderson says tenants “are obliged to make all reasonable efforts to agree on a suitable time and day for the showing” and must also keep the property in a “reasonable state of cleanliness”.

“If an agreement isn’t reached to show the property, the landlord is only able to show the property a maximum of two times per week and must give the tenant at least 48 hours’ notice each time.”

Renters also have the right to be at the property when it’s opened for inspection.

 

4. Renters have a say when it comes to photography and signage

The outside of a rental property can be photographed without permission. But if the landlord wishes to take photos inside the property, they must obtain permission from their tenant.

The tenant must also give their consent to signage and on-site auctions.

5. Renters can get compensation

Sanderson explains that landlords sometimes offer their tenant compensation to encourage them to move out of the property as soon as possible.

“In some states, a tenant may give notice, even if they are on a lease, once the property is listed for sale,” she says.

“Many property owners offer tenants compensation for the inconvenience, and this avoids the complaints.”

6. Can you deny a home inspection during Covid-19?

No, in general terms, you cannot. However, due to Covid-19, most states have introduced health guidelines still to be met if an agent or landlord request to bring people through you home during this time.

For specific guidance, check the current public health order and guidelines in your state.

7. Can repairs and maintenance be carried out during Covid-19?

Yes, repairs and maintenance can be carries out during the pandemic. The landlord, agent or authorised person can still carry out repairs during this time; they will, however, need to ensure they follow the local health guidelines in your area.

Tenants rights in different states

It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that the sale property salesreshadow changes for the tenant, but it often doesn’t play out that way.

And that’s because there’s a healthy amount of legislation specifically designed to protect the tenant’s rights in this situation – laws that differ slightly from state to state.

Here’s a location-specific breakdown of the relevant laws.

 

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