The Skill of Negotiation in Rentals
Whilst the lease agreement is set in black and white and both landlord and tenant agree to these terms, when it comes to a matter that needs resolving, both tenant and landlord should be flexible and ready to compromise.
There are situations that arise during the course of tenancy which neither the landlord nor the tenant have any control over. Where the parties have referred to the lease agreement and still can’t agree, the best way forward is to consider the matter and see how to apply a fair solution.
The best advice given by a well-known rental expert to a landlord is to always, “be fair and reasonable.” Where a landlord or tenant has acted fairly and been open to negotiation, they are generally acknowledged for such behaviour in receiving favourable Court judgements down the line. An example is where a tenant disagrees with some element of their tenancy, but continues to pay their monthly rental. This will stand them in good stead if the matter where to go to Court.
When landlords and tenants do not act reasonably and are not prepared to negotiate or compromise, disputes take much longer to resolve and often require costly legal assistance which is to neither party’s benefit.
As the managing agent we have the experience and ability to objectively consider the matter and provide advice to the landlord on how best to proceed. We do this without favouring either party, but base such advice on the applicable laws in place and our vast experience of the property industry.
An example: A landlord stipulates a 10% annual increase on an apartment rental from R 12 000 to R 13 200. The tenant is correctly notified two full months prior to the effective date of increase and writes to the agent/landlord to express their understanding of increasing property-related expenses, but that he/she is unable to afford such an increase. The tenant may highlight the improvements they’ve undertaken at the rented property, at their own cost, and the fact that they have made the apartment their home. Based on the above the tenant requests a lower increase to R 12 960 (8%). The landlord wants to be fair and reasonable and would rather not lose a good tenant so agrees to lower increase.
As the managing agent, we play an objective role in advising our clients what is right and wrong and always recommending a fair approach to any dispute that may arise during tenancy. The final decision, however, lies with the landlord who is the contracting party to a lease agreement.
The above discussion is based on the fact that the rights and responsibilities contained in the lease agreement must be abided to by both tenant and landlord, but there should be room for negotiation in some instances. The lease agreement is between the landlord and tenant with the managing agent acting as the intermediary.
There is a duty on the tenant to carefully read the lease before signing it and a duty on the landlord or agent to ensure that the tenant understands all clauses when signing.
At Steer & Co we aim to encourage a mutually beneficial relationship between landlord and tenant where both parties act fair and reasonably throughout the term of the lease. This will ensure that disputes are resolved quickly, there’ll be minimal conflict and both parties will feel like they’re winning!
Author: Melissa Cullen