…yea, I don’t think renter woes were exactly what Chuck D and Flavor Flav were talking about. Nonetheless, management companies and landlords are the powers that I’M fighting right now.
When I first started writing Happy City Living, I thought I’d only be telling stories that had happened to me and to my friends, in the past. I thought it would be useful for folks to hear, after the fact, about classic city renter situations and to see how they could be handled or resolved.
However, Agent Owens and I recently found ourselves smack-dab in the middle of a VERY common situation for renters, and I thought it might be informative for other city dwellers to watch it all play out. Here’s what’s going on…
We got an envelope in the mail a few days ago from the management company at The Gate, and it was the dreaded lease-renewal form. Lease renewals can be unnecessarily frustrating. If landlords always renewed leases at a fair market price, the process might not cause so much agita, but let’s face it, real estate management is a business. And in this city, it’s a booming business. So, landlords do everything they can to squeeze all your money out of you, and “fair” flies out the window.
Nine times out of ten, your lease renewal form will show a higher rent than you paid under the terms of your previous lease. Understandably, the landlord wants to earn more money in rent each year (even though you, as the tenant, probably wish you could pay less!). This conundrum was the case with the renewal form we received here at The Gate.
When we moved into the apartment last year, the real estate market in the city was at quite a low point. At the time, landlords were offering all kinds of incentives to entice new tenants. So, even though The Gate is considered “luxury” (I could tell you a dozen NON-luxurious things about it, but that’s not the point of my current babble), we were able to afford to sign a lease here.
But now, the city is in an upswing, economically (a good thing, overall!), and up comes the real estate market! So, even though we currently pay $1857 (the net-effective of a $2000/month rent with 1 month free, over a 14 month lease – if your brain just got befuddled, scroll down to the bottom of this post) for our studio apartment, we were suddenly staring at a much higher number when we scanned the new lease proposal. How much higher, you ask? Well, for a one-year lease, they offered $2200/month, and for a two-year lease they offered $2310. These were our faces when we saw those numbers:
Theoretically, we were supposed cut a monthly check for $343-$453 MORE than we’ve been paying this past year. The management office must have collectively bumped their heads. Are they nuts? Who can afford that kind of a price hike?????
So, what are our options? I’m glad you asked. Here they are:
- Accept the price. (Oh, hell no)
- Move out. (I really do NOT feel like moving everything we own, AGAIN, after just one year of living here)
- Fight the power. (Seeming like the only option)
I HATE negotiating. Hate it. Cannot stand it. But here we are, backed into a corner. We don’t want to move again so soon. We love the neighborhood, and we love the apartment, itself. However, we simply cannot afford the rent increase. So, we really don’t have a choice – it’s negotiation or bust. And since physically busting doesn’t sound so fun, I guess we’ll be negotiating.
Now, I’ve got to run off to try to explain in 10,000 words or less why Agent Owens and I deserve a lower rent. Then, I have to call the management office, speak to someone about how I want to negotiate my rent, and send my sure-to-be-lengthy plea off to the leasing director via email. Can you tell how excited I am about jumping into this process? The excitement is literally oozing out of my pores. Sike.
Stay turned for the top ten reasons why The Gate owes us a better rate. (Rhyming. Loves it.)
Oh, also, before I forget:
TIP!: You might be wondering what I meant earlier when I mentioned our “net-effective rent.” Basically, if a management company is leasing you an apartment and offering a free month, there are two payment options. 1. Take the first month for free, and pay the full rent price for all the other months, or 2. Divide the cost savings from that free month throughout the entire term of the lease. Here is an equation for figuring out a net-effective rent:
full rent x (term of lease – free period) / term of lease = net effective
Our initial payments at The Gate were calculated like this:
$2000 x 13 months / 14 months = $1857
Feel like you’re in 8th grade algebra? And you thought those silly word problems would never come in handy! If a train travels at 40 mph for 500 miles…ah memories.
Image: Rebecca for Happy City Living