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When, How and What to Negotiate in Your Tenancy Agreement

Phi Spencer

By Phil Spencer

When it comes to your tenancy agreement, things aren’t set in stone. Whether there’s a clause you don’t like the look of or you simply want to cut your rent down a little, it’s okay to negotiate. Sometimes it can be difficult to decide whether you’re in the right position to negotiate on a specific issue. Here’s some vital guidance to help. This is when, how and what to negotiate in your tenancy agreement.

When to negotiate the terms of your tenancy agreement

First things first – read and understand your tenancy agreement BEFORE you sign it.

Negotiating the terms of your tenancy agreement after you’ve signed is going to be a lot more difficult, if not impossible. While there are many different types of tenancy agreement, each one is legally binding. Until the end of your tenancy, you'll be contracted in. So, be sure you're happy with its terms before you sign on the dotted line! If you’re not happy with current terms then raise your concerns and see what can be changed.

How to approach negotiating your tenancy agreement

Here's how to negotiate your tenancy agreement:

Do your research

Before any negotiation, it’s worth trying to find out a bit of background on your landlord - establish their position and find out what’s important to them.

  • If you’re dealing with a letting agent, ask who the landlord is?
  • Where do they live – UK or overseas?
  • Have any previous tenants caused problems with neighbours?
  • In what condition did previous tenants leave the property?
  • How long has the landlord owned and let this property?
  • If the property is vacant – for how long and why?

Set out your stall

  • Play to your strengths - if previous tenants have caused problems during their tenancy, highlight how your lifestyle differs. This will give the landlord certainty that you are a good tenant, countering any concerns of noise and disruption. If you’ve had good relationships with previous landlords, offer to put them in touch for a verbal reference
  • Offer stability – long-term stable leases, with good tenants, provide financial certainty and are a plus for many landlords. Stress how this will be your main residence with no long periods away from the property
  • Show advance cooperation – when your tenancy ends you’re willing to grant access for the landlord to show the property for circa 1-2 months so they can get another tenant in and avoid the property standing vacant
  • Verbally commit – once the terms of your tenancy are agreed and signed, you will fully comply with them
  • If you don’t have pets and don’t smoke – lay emphasis to these points

Remember: this is the start of establishing a good relationship with your new landlord, therefore approach your negotiation with clarity and courtesy.

What can be reasonably negotiated?

Here's what aspects of your tenancy can be reasonably negotiated:

Price

It's valuable knowing best practice for negotiating house prices. Research similar properties in the area and compare them. If this property feels expensive, highlight your concerns to see if the landlord is prepared to adjust in line with the current market. If not then perhaps you could offer to sign a longer lease in order to gain a better deal?

Length of stay/contract length

You are responsible for paying the rent for the entire fixed term period of your tenancy agreement. You may want to negotiate what this ‘fixed term’ period is – it’s normally 12 to 18 months. Equally you may want to include, or omit, a break clause (i.e. at 6 months) which allows a tenancy to be terminated before the fixed term period ends.

Property enhancements

If you noticed on your viewings that the property was looking tired and in need of a lick of paint or needed additional storage to accommodate your belongings, you could request these be done in advance of your tenancy start date. If the landlord doesn’t wish to agree to enhancement requests, and you feel you can live with it, then this could be a point of negotiation to secure a better rental price.

Pets

Want to rent with your pet? Get ready to haggle!

If the landlord is not keen on having pets in their property you could offer to pay a larger deposit and/or confirm that you will pay for the property to be deep cleaned, or even fumigated, when you leave.

When to avoid negotiating

  • If it contravenes your statutory rights.
  • Anything regarding wear and tear. You need to pay for damage, but everyday living is just something the landlord has to deal with, if they want to rent their property.

Remember: a landlord doesn’t have to agree to any changes to the terms of your tenancy, but if you don’t ask you don’t get.

You should know everything about a property and the area before you commit and begin negotiations. Phil Spencer's property report contains information on local valuations and rental estimates to make sure you are not paying over the odds for a property.

In addition the report details local crime types and levels, and school rankings and information, enabling you to make a more informed decision about your next home choice. Get your full report here.

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