Opinion: Here's how to negotiate a lower rent if you're living in London and throwing half your salary down the drain

 
Aidan Rushby
One happy renter, and a cat that loves his radio. We're sure he's happy, too.

In the past six years, rents in London have increased by 23 percent, while the average salary has only inched upwards. Overall, under-30s are now spending almost 60 percent of their income on rent.

With many of us facing the prospect of being pushed further and further out of the capital, it’s crucial we take advantage of any opportunity to negotiate rent. But if offering far below the asking price won’t bring people to the table, what will?

You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours

There are several financial incentives you can offer your agent or future landlord to make the deal worth their while.

First, you can offer to remove the break clause. Often, this means the agent gets a bigger commission, putting you in a position to offer less per month.

Most contracts will still contain terms enabling you to leave earlier provided you meet certain conditions, so just make sure you read the fine print!

Second, if you can afford it, volunteer to pay a larger portion of your rent in advance, at a reduced cost. Not only does this provide your landlord with peace of mind, it also allows them to pay any outstanding bills they may have with contractors, builders or decorators, particularly if the property is newly refurbished.

Do your homework

If a property is being advertised by more than one agency, chances are the owner is in a rush to secure renters. Equipping yourself with this information puts you in a stronger position to negotiate. It also opens the door to pitting agencies against one another.

If you make your agent aware that you’re willing to seek out a deal with a competitor, they will be more inclined to reduce their fees to ensure their work doesn’t go to waste, and that you ultimately pay your deposits with them.

Similarly, if you find a property has been on the market for more than three weeks, or has been recently reduced, it’s often a tell-tale sign that it’s overpriced or in a poor condition, giving you an extra bargaining chip to negotiate with.

Play it cool

When viewing a property, emphasise the things that you’re not sure about – for example, the distance from the tube, or the size of the bedrooms – and make the agent aware that you’re considering other options. They will feed this information back to the landlord, laying the foundations for a reduction. Follow this through by initially avoiding a couple of their calls, before ringing back later with an offer.

You shouldn’t have to choose between finding a property you love and getting a good deal on rent. The key is understanding what competitive advantages you can offer, while maintaining a cool head and a discerning eye.

Remain confident, and don’t backtrack straight away if they tell you negotiating a deal might be hard or reject your first offer – there’s often a little wriggle room to be had.

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