Tenants struggle to pay rising rents

UK tenants are feeling the squeeze. New research from the Association of Letting Agents (ARLA) claims 41% of their members are seeing tenants struggle to stump up rent owed.

That means more risk for the landlord defaulting on their own buy-to-let mortgages. But that's the flip-side, it seems, of growing landlord greed in the last year.

Rent rip-off?

Rents in many parts of the UK have risen in the last year, especially in big cities like London. "With unemployment predicted to rise and average rents also increasing in some parts of the country," says Ian Potter, ARLA operations manager.

"More and more tenants are finding it impossible to make ends meet," says Ian Potter, ARLA operations manager. "It is likely that the same is happening for landlords, who may find their mortgage rate is rising. At worst, this double whammy may result in landlords defaulting on mortgages and tenants being forced to move out of a property."

Potter claims increasing number of tenants are turning to haggling. Haggling on rents has become most prevalent in the North East of England and the South West, he says, but it's least common in London.

So haggle

So how to haggle with a landlord, especially if you're after a flat in a prime location in London, for example? Well, avoid asking for a reduction in rent. Antithetical, sure, but you're better to express enthusiasm and admiration for the property, then walk away, claims Nick Parkin from Pimlico Flats, a lettings agency with plenty of experience of landlord-tenant rent negotiations.

Parkin, in his 10 Steps to a Lower Rent for your London Flat blog, says always try to get the other party to make the first move. "As the flat has been advertised at a rent already, you have already achieved that objective. You won't be able to get a rent changed by more than 5-10% and so if the asking price is 10% more above your target, you won't be able to negotiate it satisfactorily."

Powerful arguments

Probably the most important and simplest step - but one that many people feel intimidated or embarrassed about he says - is simply asking a polite question: "Is there room for negotiation in the rent?"

"From this point you need to be as quiet as possible," Parkin says in his guide, "because the less you say the more the landlord/agent will tell you."

If there is no movement in the price that is not a bad thing, then that's the point at which to challenge the valuation of the property, identifying shortcomings, and using powerful, persuasive, polite arguments to revalue the rent, he says.

You also, he advises, need to convince the other party that they want to rent to you. "They need to trust you, and know that you will look after the property and pay the rent. Sell yourself and your integrity."

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