When Tenants ask For Rent Reduction

Posted by Teresa on August 25, 2009 under Landlord Tips, Rents and Deposits, Tenant Credit Checks | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

happy-tenants on tenant screening blogAs the housing marketing continues to struggle, many landlords are finding themselves in a tough spot. Perhaps you’re one of them: vacancies are rising, your bank is tightening up your credit line and won’t refinance your mortgage, and you really need a positive cash flow.

If your tenants are smart, they know that in some areas, it’s a renter’s market—and they could be planning to ask you for a rent reduction, especially if they feel they’re paying more than the market dictates.

What should a landlord do if a tenant asks for lower rent?

  1. Determine whether or not your tenant has a valid case for a reduction in rent. Look at your local rent market, and compare your rents to similar units. You should always be aware of the fair market value in your area—and there are plenty of resources to guide you.
  2. Analyze your cash flow. If you determine your rent is above market value, but you can’t lower the rent and stay profitable, look for ways to reduce expenses. Perhaps you can take over landscaping duties from your contracted service. Or, perform small repair and maintenance yourself for awhile. You could even offer a compromise, such as keeping the rent the same, but covering some utility costs.
  3. Analyze the tenant’s history. Does the tenant pay on time every month? Have there been any complaints against them? How careful are they with your property? If they have been a great tenant, compare the rent reduction request with the hassle of finding a new tenant. You may find that peace of mind will make the reduction more palatable.
  4. Advise that you will be conducting a tenant credit check—and then follow through. If your tenant’s credit status has changed since the lease was signed, a thorough screening is the only way to find out. You may discover credit problems that indicate the tenant is not a good candidate for lower rent negotiations.

As a landlord, you are in a constant balance act to obtain and keep good tenants who pay on time. As the economy starts to slowly recover, you may have to concede to belt-tightening or reducing rents in order to attract and keep your best tenants.