Dear Babe,


I
moved into my apartment when it was hard to find a place and rents were
high. Now it seems like there’s a place for rent on every block. I
don’t really want to move, but do I have any other options for bringing
down my rent?


Signed,

Rent Gouged

Dear Rent Gouged.


Yes!
There is an option besides moving. You can try negotiating down your
rent. Here’s how: Write a nice letter to your landlord saying how much
you love your current place and that you’d hate to move but with rents
falling all around you, you’d feel financially irresponsible if you
didn’t look. Would they consider temporarily lowering your rent until
the market turns around? 

Suggest
a price based on the lowered rents around you. Make sure to attach
copies of For Rent listings for places that are comparable to yours.

This
will enable you to stay in your place even if they say no. Then you can
look for a new place at your own pace. But I’ve tried it twice and it’s
worked like a charm both times.

Usually
the landlord will have you sign a document saying that your rent is
reduced to a certain amount and will be raised again to the original
price at the discretion of the landlord. THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE
SIGNING A NEW YEAR LONG LEASE, unless it states that in the document
you sign. Personally I would NOT sign a new year lease knowing they
could hike my rent at any time. 

The
only way to make your new lower rent “permanent” (as permanent as rent
control will let it be) is to sign a new lease with that new price
stated as your rent. 

In
one building where I lived I negotiated my rent down from $1250 to $950
a month. But I knew they could hike it back up whenever they wanted. So
my friend, who lived in the same building, and I swapped apartments so
that we could sign new leases. 

xoxo

Babe

Nagging questions holding you back?  Babe Scanlon’s got your
answer.  A SF native, she’s been figuring this place out far longer
than she cares to admit, and now she’s ready to share. Email her ar
babe@sfappeal.com and let the veil of confusion lift. Please do keep in mind: Babe Scanlon is not presenting
herself as an expert in anything that means you can sue her or the
Appeal if you take her advice and your life tanks.  Her recommendations
are just that: recommendations. 

the author

Babe Scanlon is a writer living and working in San Francisco. She's worked as an archaeologist, computer game designer, agent at Agent Provocateur and hypnotherapist. She is controlling your mind at this very moment.

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  • generic

    Is this a new “How Not to Get Fucked By Your Landlord” column?

    Because if so, that would be an awesome column.

  • rachael

    I tried this once before, and bastardly landlord said no, so I found another apt. within a week and was all moved in within 30 days of making the request. The new place was both bigger AND cheaper AND had a yard. Suck it, ex landbaron.

  • Jim

    Assuming the apt. is covered under rent control, as most in SF are…

    A landlord risks resetting the base rent if s/he made this agreement. Of course, none of this matters if the tenant never goes to the sf rent board, but if the tenant did, then any “discretionary increase” in rent would be ruled an unlawful rent increase.

    To get around this back during the dotcom crash in the early 1990s, some landlords in town would slip some Benjamins under the door as a rental rebate on a monthly basis.

  • Babe Scanlon

    Great idea. I need that column too.