8 best tips for renegotiating your rental lease

You love your Toronto rental apartment – everything’s perfect, from the location to the awesome neighbourhood to your cozy bedroom.

But, alas, once a year that dreaded time comes up to renegotiate the lease. Almost without fail, the landlord or property manager wants to increase the rent, but you just can’t afford anymore, or at least just don’t want to pay extra next year.

So how do you renegotiate your lease in homes of ditching the annual rent increase? Here are our 8 best tips for discussing the lease with your landlord or property manager.

  1. Good behaviour pays off. You’re going to have more sway with your landlord if, from the day you moved in, you didn’t cause him or her any headaches. From noise complaints to excessive demands for repairs, these little actions can add up to an annoyance for landlords, and can put you in their bad books. So, from the day you move in, be aware that the date to renew the lease will come. You’ll want to be in good standing when it does.
  2. And pointing them out helps. When the time comes to talk lease renewal, it doesn’t hurt to remind your landlord or property manager about your good behaviour. You could mention that you get along well with neighbours and haven’t caused any concerns over strata bylaws since moving in.
  3. Start the discussion early. For your sake, and for the sake of your landlord, it’s important to start thinking about the renewal while there’s still a couple of months left on your lease. If things go sour, you’ll want time to find a new apartment for rent in Toronto. Either way, you and the landlord will feel more relaxed about the discussion with plenty of time on your sides.
  4. Check the comparables. Knowing what similar units are renting for will be your best ammunition in a lease renegotiation. Toronto landlords are entitled to increase the rent once a year by a certain amount, depending on the age of the building. But if you know your neighbour pays less than you for a very similar apartment, bring up that point. Similarly, if you know your neighbours pay much more than you, that knowledge could affect your request for a zero rent increase this year.
  5. Understand their costs. Sometimes your landlord’s costs will affect your rent as well. Condo and apartment buildings have cost increases for strata fees, taxes and even special assessments that can cost the landlord thousands. Sometimes, these costs can decrease, too. Being informed about these costs can help you and the landlord come to a fair middle ground.
  6. Suggest a trade. Negotiations become a lot more fun and easy when both parties want something, so finding out what your landlord wants will help you get what you want. Often, that means improvements to the property. Maybe in exchange for a zero rent increase this year, you offer to paint the whole apartment, replace the dishwasher or fix the leaky toilet yourself. Finding a win-win is the goal!
  7. Offer to stay for longer. Another example of a trade is offering to extend the lease longer in exchange for no rent increase, or a smaller increase. Landlords would often rather have a good tenant stay longer than go through the hassle of finding someone new. Try offering to sign an 18- or 24-month lease in exchange for a zero rent increase.
  8. Be willing to compromise. The nature of negotiations is to come to a compromise that works for both parties. Be aware that you might not get exactly what you want, but you’ll get some as long as it works for the landlord too. In the end, being relaxed and understanding during negotiations will result in a happy relationship with your landlord and a happy relationship with your awesome Toronto apartment!

Got your own tips? Share them in the comments below!

Born on the Prairies, Erin Cardone grew up knowing there was more to life than canola fields and AAA Alberta Angus. So she escaped, living in Europe and Australia, white-knuckling it through plates of calf brains and raw horse meat, and learning languages she can't remember anymore. After a stint as a jaded, skeptical journalist, she changed tack and began writing rather awesome blogs and showing businesses that advertising is dead, so long live social media, with her businesses Legendary Social Media. She now splits her time between various Canadian cities, Costa Rica and wherever else the wind blows.

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