Seeking Advice on Renegotiating My Lease

buggybumperJanuary 28, 2009

I have lived in my current apartment in Orange County, CA for 2 years with my lease set to expire July 1. When my first lease expired last April, my rent was raised 8% ($120). I was told that the increase wasn't negotiable. I had complained about my upstairs neighbors on many occasions. They were dropping debris (including toe nail clippings and cigarette ashes) onto my patio table. Plus there were noise issues - heels on hardwood floors, treadmill, commode running continuously, etc. They are nice enough people and I haven't complained to them directly because I fear retaliation. I told the office I wanted to move into a townhome, but none were available at that time. They were supposed to keep me informed when ones came available, but they haven't. I saw some vacant and inquired and learned that the rent is no longer comparable to what mine was raised to ($1632) but are quite higher due to upgrades and out of my price range.

A few days ago I was talking to my next door neighbor and asked her if her upstairs neighbors were loud. She told me that her husband had gone to the office before they received their rent increase notice and complained about the noise. The manager reduced their rent by $20 to $1413. The neighbors they were complaining about (who did fight and yell) moved several months ago. Meanwhile, my upstairs neighbors (who have lived there 8 years) just signed a new lease for $1450. I feel like I'm paying for each of their rent increases!

Also, I am in a very popular floorplan that isn't available very often. There was one available last September that was renting for $1568.00 - at least on the day I called. The rents fluctuate like airplane tickets... It's crazy!

I could really use a rent decrease now because I've lost a large part of income from stock dividends. My roommate works for an auto dealership and he's been told they may be laying off soon. If I renegotiate a lease, should I mention that I know my neighbor was given a decrease? Should I mention that my income is drastically reduced? I'm afraid to do so because they might not renew my lease in July and it will be difficult to find another place without the income.

Thanks in advance for any advice you'd care to offer me!!

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I might mention about the neighbours, but certainly not about your income.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 10:03PM
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Truthfully, your landlord, which in this case sounds like a large management company, probably doesn't care at all about your decreased income, whatever the cause. What you make doesn't concern them; whether or not you pay on time does.

If lots of people are moving out of the complex because of the economy, they might be willing to negotiate the lease, because some money coming in is better than no money coming in. So if you hint that you might move because of the noise, they might be willing to lower your rent a bit. No guarantees, though.

If both you and your roommate are going to be struggling to pay the bills, it might be time to investigate other places to live (if there is any place cheaper in CA, I know it's expensive there).

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 11:26AM
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~$1600 for a two-bedroom in OC is fairly decent. You can find some stuff cheaper in craigslist if you search around, but not a lot, so I don't think where the management office has you priced at is way off base...still, it's worth trying to negotiate.

Personally, I'd try the following. Try to negotiate with the office regarding your lease -- since you have a few months before you'll actually be doing that, I'd make sure that you are very clear about the issues with noise, etc. that you are having with the neighbors overhead (don't make stuff up, but if you have any more incidents, report them). Then when it comes time to renegotiate, your bringing up the noise problems won't suddenly come out of nowhere. Give them a good reason to want to keep you around; talking about the noise and how frustrating it is for you...but you're willing to stay and put up with it if they'll lower your rent...that's a good way to go, IMHO.

If they won't lower your rent, personally, I'd look for a new place to live -- the place you're living in has two points against it: noisy overhead neighbors, and it may be too expensive for you in the long run. Why stay there, then? While there aren't a ton of cheaper places to live, there are some, depending on what neighborhood you're looking in -- and a lot of them are offering the first month or two free. You have five months warning to start setting aside money for a security deposit, etc. I'd start doing that, just as a safety plan.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 11:17PM
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