The previous year hit us all drastically — a lot of people have been worried about the threats of COVID-19 and had several businesses shut down because of the failing economy. Given the stop of various businesses, it has also affected the workforce in Australia; lots of people lost their jobs and the labour force has been cut down in almost a half.
The unemployment rate in Australia has risen in the past year. In October of 2020, just by a span of one month, about an additional 29,500 Australians lost their jobs either full time or part-time and the unemployment rate jumped off to about 6.9% (Karp, P., 2020). In the advent of the pandemic, essentials like food, work, and even rent have greatly affected families and labour forces as more and more have lost their jobs due to companies not being able to prepare for the health crisis. This meant that a significant number of working individuals have been struggling to juggle up finances in the past year up until today, as the economy is still on its way to recovery since the start of lockdowns and restrictions worldwide starting March of 2020.
The worst part is, the industry of goods and services has been limited causing inflation to balloon up in just a number of days. Inflation partnered with unemployment is something not only Australians have experienced but also within the international arena. Goods have become so expensive that people have to tighten their budget more. For those that are still renting homes, fees might have stayed on their usual price however, they seem to find it over the budget as means of earning are not any more stable.
According to the 2016 Census of Population and Housing, there are 8.3 million households in Australia. 67% of which are homeowners either mortgaged or not; 32% are renting either from landlords, or state or territory housing authorities; and 1% of which are tenured (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2020). Given the statistics for unemployment and those that are renting, it is a no brainer that there are still a lot of Australians who are and will still have difficulties in paying their monthly home fees. This might lead to an upsurge in the number of renters being indebted or worse homeless if the need for labour force from public and private sectors do not recuperate as soon as possible.
In Australia’s prominent cities, the average cost of rentals is 400AUD a week. This may be relatively cheaper than usual, but Australians still have difficulties in finding the cheapest house they can afford. Thus, many people are now opting to find online jobs and moving to suburban and rural areas as rent is lower compared to houses or apartments in Australia’s core-periphery. Yet, even when moving away from cities, there are a lot who still struggle when it comes to paying rent. With this, negotiations with the landlords are now the best way to be able to loosen up their monthly budget and so they could at least have a decent home to shelter in.
It might be the last thing you have to worry about and it might sound uncommon to negotiate with your landlord for a discount when it comes to renting, but it’s actually the best way so you could make the best deal out of the usual rent you are paying. Trying to pay and pay for a high rent when you can actually negotiate right now might lead you to unwanted debts just because you thought it’s not good to negotiate for your monthly rentals. Now, more and more people are considering speaking out to their landlords, so at least they could maximize the budget from their rent to other essential needs.
You may not know how to do it, but there are several ways to talk your rent out with your landlords.
Talk to the right person
First things first. Communication is the key to express whatever it is that you want to say. If talking directly to your landlord seems impossible, then dealing with real estate agents or property managers is the next best option. They are open to every tenant’s concern. You can set an appointment to discuss everything so that issues can be properly addressed. From the smallest problems to the most serious ones, you can always reach out to them as far as your rented property is concerned.
Build a connection
While this might not be true for those that are renting from a large management company, getting to know your agent/manager/landlords might just let them give you a comparable discount for your rent. Imagine befriending them, just like when you make friends with anybody, they will be more likely to help you in times of need. Making friends with them might not be a one time shot. However, giving a small conversation when you see each other might just help you build a connection. But just a tip, don’t just befriend them because you want a discount, nevertheless be friends with them because of the friendship your connection has to give.
Be open with why you are struggling with the rental fee
When you want to justify your reasons for why your landlord must consider giving you a rent reduction, start with your financial struggle. You might want to give them a background of how you lost your job, or how you were laid off from a position that was able to compensate for your usual monthly rent. This might lead your landlord to finally believe to what extent the difficulty of financial struggle you are facing. In this time of the pandemic, people would understand how our monetary struggles are, and thus will be willing to assist you in any way that they can.
Being a good payer and neighbour might be a leverage
It might sound ridiculous but being a good renter may be of good leverage when asking a discount from your landlord. When you want to ask for a rent reduction, you can simply tell your landlord how good you are at paying your rent on time. Be sure to also tell them that it is your first time asking for a rent reduction and this is because of how greatly your finances are affected by the time the pandemic has spread internationally. Additionally, you might want to tell them how you do not cause trouble to any of your neighbours. It will let them think about keeping you as a renter than accepting others that they have not known for quite some time. You’ll never know how these leverages can actually be used to gain confidence from your landlord.
Check for amenities that are either malfunctioning or unavailable
Practically, Australia’s houses must have complete amenities. For instance, you can check whether or not heaters, ovens, and water flow are working properly. If ever one of the amenities do not function well, you can still stay in the house but be sure to ask for a discount if your landlord does comply with fixing the problem. Apart from the amenities, you can also do a quick house tour for you to be able to check on doors, roofings, or even with the furniture if they provide. Cases like these can easily be escalated usually by letting the real estate agents or property managers know about it. Always be sure that your home is in good condition, if not, then ask for a discount.
Consider the proximity of your house from essential services
You can also ask for a discount when living in rural areas as a convenience when buying your essentials is very much less compared to when living in the suburbs. Yet, rent outside of cities is significantly low, but be sure to compute your travel expenses before considering moving to areas outside cities.
Rural areas are actually great for those working remotely as they do not need to report directly to their offices day by day. You might want to consider moving when you are on a work from home setting.
Study on the property you want to rent
Not all houses for rent should be so expensive. There are still properties that are either vacant for quite some time and landlords are just trying their best to find someone who can rent. If a house has been vacant for a while, it might entail that many renters have found it quite unappealing to live in. What you have to do is to negotiate with the landlord to give you a discount so you can have a good review about it. This is certainly one of the best ways to be able to draw in renters and get everyone thinking that the landlord’s property is good and is open for renters who are trying to find a home with reasonable pricing. Sometimes, an x-deal is good; works like magic for most people.
Write a letter
If you are not able to see your landlord regularly and you already need to talk to them about reducing your rental fee, the best way for you to communicate would be in writing. Yes, writing is still good when you intend to negotiate your rent with your landlord. You can write to them by hand or even through email.
In writing the letter of request, be sure to include the present circumstance where you will be able to directly explain as to why you may fail in paying the rent. Tell them how grateful you are of your apartment, and include why your landlord should let you stay.
If you want to do this method when asking for rent reduction, you can use this template:
[Your Apartment Address]
[Your Landlord’s name]
(optional) [Thru: Real Estate Agent / Property Manager]
SUBJECT (if in email): Request for rent reduction due to (e.g. unemployment)
Dearest Mr/s. [Landord’s Surname]
It is with sincerest intentions that I am writing this letter to request for my monthly rent be reduced due to being laid off from my job.
Unfortunately, I lost my job in the middle of the pandemic. I could not grasp how disappointed I am with the situation but still, we have to move.
Given the inevitable circumstance, I may not be able to pay the full amount of rent due to financial limitations. Thus, I am humbly asking for you to consider lowering my monthly rent, so I will still be able to pay my rent regularly on a monthly basis. Know that I have been a good tenant without having any past due payments and even a good neighbour to everyone.
This may be a bold move, but I also want to be able to pay you regularly so as to give benefit for both of us.
Hoping for your kind consideration with regards to my request.
Stay safe always.
Always sound polite when writing a letter to your landlord. Use words that are sincere and write your letter in a formal manner. You can search for templates for you to write the best letter of request for your landlord. You might not know but it could be the best way to let them understand how and what your situation is, thus finally leading to them giving you a considerable reduction for your monthly rent. Just don’t sound too dramatic.
Say, your landlord agrees to reduce your rent. What happens next?
Make sure to document. The agreement can be written either by the landlord or the tenant, ensuring that both parties affix their signatures on it. Each party will have a copy of the said agreement. Rent reduction agreement forms can also be found online, but if you are to write your own, it should include the following:
- Name of Landlord
- Name of Tenant
- Complete address of the property being rented
- Amount of previous and currently agreed rental fee
- Period covered for paying the agreed rental fee
- Other conditions/matters agreed to by both parties
But what if your landlord doesn’t agree to reduce your rent?
As a tenant, you have the right to appeal to the higher authority. As long as you comply with the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (258.0 KB pdf), your desire for rent reduction can still be processed. Accredited persons or mediators can take part in helping both landlords and tenants work out issues in order to obtain agreement. Examples of governing bodies that provide such services are the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Consumer and Business Services (CBS).
The continuing challenge to tighten our monthly expenses has been worsened by the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As many people are still losing jobs up to this day, we can all certainly agree that in these trying times, our finances are also greatly affected just like our health.
As inflation is rising, more and more goods are becoming expensive over time. This leads us to gradually assess our expenses so we would be able to give importance to what is essential for us. When it comes to our shelter, it may not seem to be affected by the looks of it as rent may have stayed at its usual price, but considering our means of earning, it may lead us to not being able to pay our rents regularly. Thus, this calls for a short negotiation and bargaining with our landlords for us to stay at a place, safe from the risks of COVID-19.
When in negotiation with individual landlords, one should always remember to be always polite when speaking. It should also be instilled in mind to tell the landlords the reason why you are requesting a reduction in rent and just be honest about it. After all, you would not ask for anything when you don’t desperately need it. Just keep your explanation short and simple, and just be direct with your landlord about it.