If you're wondering about a rent reduction because of COVID-19, you're in one of two situations. In the first, your lease is not renewing any time soon, but you still want to pay less rent. In the second, your lease is about to come up for renewal and and you want to re-sign with a lower monthly rent.
What if my lease isn't renewing any time soon?
Lease agreements lock you into a particular rent price for a set period of time. This is usually a good thing for tenants, and that's why it's not easy to get your rent price changed during your lease. Typically, you can request a rent adjustment for one of two reasons: there’s been a major change in the quality of your rental or you’ve made major improvements of your own to the rental. There's no harm in asking for a rent reduction because of the coronavirus, of course, but don't get your hopes up. You have a lot less leverage than a tenant whose lease term is about to end.
What if my lease is about to come up for renewal?
If your lease is ending soon, there's a good chance your landlord wants you to renew. It will be tough to fill a vacancy in this climate, meaning that they may have to lower the rent (perhaps significantly) to find a new tenant. If you would like to stay in your current rental, then you should absolutely ask for a rent reduction—and the chances are high that you'll get one. If your landlord is a management company, as opposed to an individual owner, they will prefer to give you a concession on rent (i.e. two months off) instead of a lower monthly rent price.
What's the best way to ask my landlord for a rent reduction?
You'll have a better chance of success if you go into the discussion prepared. If you can, provide proof that the pandemic has made it more difficult for you to afford your current rent. Plus, you'll want evidence that units like yours are being currently advertised for much less than you're paying.
Document how the crisis has affected your finances
Your case will be stronger if you can demonstrate that COVID-19 has negatively impacted your financial health. You should gather:
- Pay stubs for the four- to eight-week period before mid-March, when the national emergency was declared
- Pay stubs since the national emergency was declared
- Written communication from your employer
Prove that the crisis has affected the market
You'll need to do some of the work for your landlord here to prove your point. Put together a list of similar units that are on the market now and have been listed in the past week or two. If you notice that the rent is lower than your current rent, then you can make the decision easy for your landlord: in the open market they won't be able to get more than a certain amount, so they might as well offer to rent to you for that much.
At the end of the day, many landlords are just as worried about the crisis as their tenants. The best way to protect their own financial health is to keep you in your rental, even if it's for a lower rent amount.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.