Time to negotiate: four ways to push for more affordable rent


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Owning a home has long been hailed as the great Australian dream. But with property prices rising again, millions of renters are concerned that home ownership will remain just that - a dream.

Recent survey data from Finder shows that a third (34%) of renters, equivalent to 900,000 households, feel they'll never own their own home. A further 19% think it will take them at least a decade to conquer the property market.

The rental generation is a growing breed. Nationwide figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the number of households who rent increased from 27% in 1997-98 to 32% in 2017-18.

how to negotiate cheaper rent

Tenants are also paying more for their accommodation. Recent CoreLogic data shows that over the past three months rents have risen in almost every capital city.

Capital city dwellers are now spending around 20%-30% of their weekly income on rent, with the national median rental now at $436 a week.

Yet it isn't all bad news. Sydney and Darwin bucked the trend, with rents in these cities falling by 3.1% and 5.7% respectively.

Despite this decrease, Sydney tenants still pay far above the national median, forking out $582 a week on average.

Regardless of your location, it's always worth trying to knock a few dollars off your rent. But it's important to be prepared before lodging an offer.

How to negotiate cheaper rent

1. Maintain a good rental history

If you have left a string of damaged properties, noise complaints or overdue rental payments in your wake, chances are your landlord will be less likely to accommodate any counter-offers you put forward.

On the other hand, a list of excellent references from previous landlords or real estate agents can be used as a bargaining tool - you'll also be more likely to be approved in the first place.

2. Do your homework

You should have a good understanding of what prices are like in your area before asking for lower rent. Study your local market and compare similar properties to get a general feel for what you should pay.

You might find a property much like your own advertised for $30-50 less. While this may not seem like a huge amount, it can save you $1560-$2600 a year.

negotiate cheaper rent

3. Look for properties that have been vacant for a while

This is more likely to happen in cities such as Sydney, where an increase in residential apartments and developments has led to an oversupply of rental properties in some areas.

Landlords will be much more likely to accept a lower counter-offer if their property has been vacant for a while.

4. Speak up

At the end of the day, if you don't ask you don't get. With rental prices starting to fall in some major capital cities, now is the perfect time to try your luck at lowering your rent.

It might feel intimidating, but the worst that can happen is that your landlord says no.

As a renter, increasing property prices can be disheartening. But it's important to remember that the housing market isn't stagnant.

Rises and dips in prices provide new opportunities for buyers to enter the market every few years - the trick is to keep saving along the way.

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Bessie Hassan is a money expert at Finder.

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