Budgeting Early Retirement Journey

Season 1, Episode 4 How I Negotiated Down My Rent

BACKGROUND.
As I mentioned in my early  budgeting struggles, housing is my biggest expense and almost caused me to give up on My Early Retirement Journey altogether.  Before my light bulb moment to make my budget work for me instead of the other way around, housing costs really threw a wrench in my 2018 outlook.

Outside of the budget, I was getting really tired of the management headaches; the rent increases; new fees and honestly life in general. Having to pay more for something I didn’t entirely want, really lit a fire under me.

Rental History:

Sep 2015 – I moved in. My apartment was brand new and I was new to the area and starting a new job in 3 days. The advertised rent was in my Regular Retirement Budget (age 65). It was summer in the South and it was the first place I looked at after driving 10 hours from New Jersey.

TOTAL MONTHLY RENT: $910
Included: valet trash, internet
Additional fees: $0

Sep 2016  – Property changed management 4 times in one year. I had noticed over the year that the advertised price changed with each management company. However, a neighbor said they tried to negotiate a lower price and was turned down. They moved out. My rent only went up a couple dollars. It was still in Regular Retirement Budget (age 65). Try as I might, I had nowhere else to go, so I renewed my lease for 12 more months.

TOTAL MONTHLY RENT: $928
Included: valet trash, internet
Additional fees: $0

Sep 2017 – It’s two years later. Feeling a little aimless. Job is fine. Community is ok. Really wanting a change. Not just where I live but maybe my life in general. Management company changed 2 more times, at least. Maintenance requests not responded to in the management shuffle. Stove not operational for at least 6 weeks.  Property bought by a new company. New owner keeps the rent the same for any lease term greater than 6 months but charges for services that used to be included. I figure it’s been two years; I’ll find a house in 6 months and be out of here. I renew for 6 months.

TOTAL MONTHLY RENT: $928
Included:  internet
Additional fees:valet trash $25, water billing fee $4
TOTAL CHARGES: $957

Dec 19, 2017 – Renewal notice received:

“We are offering a renewal rate of $965.00/month.In addition to rent, the following additions / changes will occur to your monthly charges:
Pest Control – Monthly charge for ongoing prevention of pest infestation : $3.00
Trash Removal – Monthly charge for trash removal service : $30.00
Utility Service Fee – Monthly fee for the calculation of water and wastewater charges and maintenance of supporting systems : $4.67”

This is in the midst of the Budget Struggles. It hit me at the wrong moment. I was undecided on the budget or home ownership or becoming an ex pat or joining Peace Corp or just burying my head in the sand.  My heart boiled with the idea of paying $1,000 for a space that no longer met my needs; had no central air; had no oven; and I was getting tired of feeling stuck.

Dec 24, 2017 – My response:

“Hello there,

I read the renewal notice and did some research.
Comparable apartments in the area (e.g. provided 2 complexes as examples) have 1 bedrooms at around $865 for an actual 1 bedroom (not studio) with central air, windows that open, and a full range and oven on a less noisy street. Would This Property be able to compete at $820 so I can continue to occupy the unit?
Your prompt response is appreciated.”

 Jan 7, 2018 – Follow up:

“Subject: 2ND ATTEMPT
Please respond. Thanks. Below are your advertised rental rates as of 1/7/18.
[Included screenshot that showed 1 Bed: $835+ ]”

 Jan 7, 2018  – Their Response:

“I’ve contacted my pricing manager to see if we could get you better rates.
The rates you see on our website are for longer lease terms (11-13 month).
Because you’re currently on a 6 month lease, your rates were offered based on that.
If you are willing to sign a longer lease term, I don’t think there would be an issue with giving you a better rate. “

Jan 18, 2018 – Their Follow up:

 “I was able to negotiate a renewal offer of $875 for lease terms 6 months or longer. Would you like to proceed with your renewal?”

WIN!
Moral of the story: it never hurts to try!

Have you ever successfully negotiated anything in your favor?

 

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