How to Negotiate A Rent Repayment Plan with Your Landlord

By Octavio Velarde on August 24, 2020

Various state and local emergency orders issued during the coronavirus pandemic have allowed tenants to defer rent payments for the time being and negotiate private repayment agreements. But few of us are experienced negotiators. So how do you get started negotiating and how do you avoid being taken advantage of?

Before you begin negotiating with your landlord, you should first spend time figuring out what is your “walk away” point. The purpose of any negotiation is for both parties to get some benefit together that they would not be able to get on their own. After all, if you could get a benefit on your own, you don’t need anyone else to agree in the first place. If you are not getting some benefit from the deal that is more than you can get on your own, then you will walk away from the negotiations because there is nothing for you to gain.

Start by brainstorming what options you may have available to you.

  • So, for example, maybe your local tenant protections give you 12 months until you have to repay rent. You already have that protection with or without your landlord’s agreement. That means that your “walk away” point will be at least 12 months to repay rent. If your landlord doesn’t agree to something better than that, you may as well walk away because there is no value for you in the deal.
  • For another example, let’s say your court has deferred evictions until January 2021. That means that you cannot be evicted any sooner whether your landlord agrees with it or not. That means your “walk away” point might be that you will not accept a deal that requires you to move out before January 2021. If your landlord wants you to agree to move-out sooner, you can just walk away, because you have at least until that time to stay in your home.
young parents and child play with cardboard boxes while moving apartments

Knowing your “walk away” point is an important negotiating tactic. First, it will help you evaluate any offers you hear because you already know the minimum you need to make any agreement worth it for you. Secondly, it will give you confidence during a negotiation to have already thought about your other options and what protections you already may have. Finally, it will help you be a stronger negotiator if you can show your landlord you know your rights. Remember that an agreement is not required; it is supposed to be for the benefit of both people. If you aren’t getting a benefit, then you don’t have to enter into an agreement.

Finally, remember to be very suspicious of pressure tactics. A pressure tactic may be, for example, a “take-it-or-leave-it” offer where you accept their terms or walk away without a deal. Another pressure tactic is called the “exploding offer,” where someone tells you the offer will expire if you don’t agree right away, usually before you have a chance to speak with an attorney. Pressure tactics are meant to push you to agree to something without fully evaluating the value of the agreement. But if you have your “walk away” point already, then you will be more confident and better able to recognize a bad deal.

If you would like information about local tenant protections so you can figure out your walk-away point, call us for a free consultation at (619) 330-6870.

The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

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