The summer slide in the rental market has given tenants the power to negotiate. To get the best value for money and a few extra incentives from your landlord, here are some valuable tips from property experts.

Do your homework
Mario Volpi, sales and leasing manager at Engel & Völkers, suggests being well prepared before you meet the agent or the landlord. He says, “Look up all available options online to get an idea of values, availability and quality of properties. Knowledge is power, so familiarise yourself with the renting procedure and relevant laws.”

One cheque payment
Volpi observes paying in one shot is becoming less frequent in the market, but he considers this will get a tenant a much better deal. “Having the ability to pay in one cheque could make savings of approximately 10 per cent or more from the asking price,” he says.

Provide references
Helen Tatham, managing partner of Prime Places Real Estate, says a good relationship between the landlord and tenant is significant, as one is entrusting the other to maintain and look after a valuable asset. “If a tenant can provide a reference of good standing from a company or colleague then this will encourage the landlord to agree to a good price to secure you as their tenant, as void periods cost landlords more than 8 per cent of the annual rent per month,” she adds.

Extend the lease
The typical market norm is to sign a tenancy contract for one year. However, Tatham points out that tenants who want to live in the same property for the next two to three years can opt for an extended lease, as this enables them to use it as a bargaining tool for a favourable rental rate. This is also a good thing for a landlord as it strengthens the relationship.

Community selection
“A tenant looking for a good deal should also identify communities with many rental choices,” says Tatham. “When supply exceeds demand, landlords need to be competitive with their asking price, and hence a tenant is in a stronger position to negotiate.”

Be flexible on the choices
Volpi points out that when choosing where to live, you will often get a better deal if you decide to forego that great view or if you opt for a lower floor. “Similar units without these views, for example, can be far cheaper.”

Work with an agent exclusively
Lewis Allsopp, CEO of Allsopp & Allsopp, says it’s better to work exclusively with an agent as this helps reduce the perceived demand on units and prevent situations wherein tenants find it harder to negotiate a deal or landlords falsely hold off until they get higher offers.

Time it right
Allsopp points out that the optimum time to view and secure a new tenancy is two to five weeks before you move in. “If you are looking at properties for more than five weeks, then the landlord will think you have enough time in hand to move in and often gets disinterested in the deal. Less than two weeks and you are in far too much of a rush, so crack the best deal.”

Word of mouth referral
Alexandar Varghese, CEO of Masterkey Properties, says it’s always good to ask around. “Sometimes you could have colleagues who own a property or live in a building that has vacant flats. And being an existing tenant, they can help you negotiate and build your credibility with the landlord. Or they could give you a reliable agent who is known to them.”

Ask for anything
Varghese says in a tenant’s market the landlords are all looking for good tenants. “So, you can always ask the landlord for an extra month or two free or have a full-service contract,” he says. “You could also ask for new white goods to be included or if it’s a golf villa, you can ask for a golf course membership. It doesn’t cost anything to ask, so always try.”

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