“How do I get the best rental for my new home?"
This is a question my clients ask all the time. And it’s easy to see why: Hong Kong property prices are staggering compared to other countries. With corporate packages disappearing, a dollar saved is a dollar earned. So, what do you do if you find a Hong Kong apartment for rent that you love, but it’s outside of your budget? Read on for my top five tips on how to negotiate a lower rent:
1. Give your current landlord earlier notice
Negotiate a new lease two to three weeks before it takes effect to increase your chances of securing a more economical price. When leasing a new property, landlords are often hopeful that prospective tenants will start their new leases immediately. They are unlikely to wait two months for you to start a lease, especially at a discounted price. Since a landlord naturally wants to minimize the rental loss of a vacancy period, offering to start a lease sooner in exchange for a lower rent can be in both parties’ interests. As it relates to your current unit (if you’re planning to move), if you’re not in your fixed lease period, give your current landlord earlier notice that you’re leaving. Giving notice without securing another home may sound risky—but it can greatly increase your chances of getting a place within your budget. Since you’ll have given notice prior to securing a new unit, do your research before you give notice to your existing landlord. This will enable you to make decisions quickly, take a new unit quickly, achieve better terms and avoid paying overlapping rent.
2. Provide a letter of employment
Landlords want to know that you have a stable income and are capable of paying rent, so if the new lease is in your or your spouse’s name (i.e. a personal lease as opposed to a corporate lease), ask your/his/her company for a letter that certifies employment, including details such as a full name, Hong Kong identification card number, job title, and, if possible, current income.
In addition, ask your current landlord for a reference letter if you’re moving, (assuming you’ve been a good tenant!) Although it’s unlikely for your new landlord to ask your previous landlord for a reference letter, it doesn’t hurt to have a document that states that you pay your rent on time and have kept their rental property in good condition.
Again, these can benefit both parties since it helps to show a new landlord that you’ll be a great tenant that is worth having in exchange for some rental reduction.
3. Don't ask for too much
If your priority is to keep rent down, and the rental home is in a good condition, i.e. leak-free and mold-free with functioning fixtures, try to take the unit in “as is” condition. After all, it’s a hassle for landlords to ask contractors to fix small issues as many contractors don’t take small jobs. Landlords will sometimes be willing to reduce the rent if you can accept the current condition, or are willing to pay for minor touch-ups yourself.
However, if there are major issues that need to be addressed, ask your agent to include them in the offer letter.
4. Go for a two-year fixed lease
Go for a longer lease if you know that you will be staying in Hong Kong. Some landlords repaint and re-varnish wooden floors every time a tenant vacates, so, if you can offer to stay for a minimum two years (i.e. no breaklease clause), even at a discounted rent, the benefits of having guaranteed rent could offset the difference between the asking price and agreed upon price. Before you renew your lease agreement, be sure to read our guide on what you should do to prepare for the process.
5. Be flexible
Choose at least two suitable properties, then ask your agent to inform both landlords that you intend to make a final decision within a short period of time: when you give two offers simultaneously, both landlords will take note of the increased urgency to “win “your offer, potentially giving then greater incentive to accept a lower price. Having two or more options will also give you peace of mind, providing you with a back-up plan should one of them fall through.
We hope you take pleasure in your new home as much as we enjoyed helping you find it. Subscribe to our newsletter for more tips on finding your ideal home.
Disclaimer. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of OKAY.com. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only.