Getting to ‘yes’ is not just reserved for those in the business world: Lessons learned can certainly be applied in the rental market, especially when you’re trying to resolve an issue with your landlord.
Generally, the more serious complaints, such as discrimination based on your race, sex or a host of other illegal reasons, are usually resolved by filing a ‘fair housing complaint,’ or worse, a lawsuit.
For sure, advice flows freely on the Internet, but over on the NOLO website, one of the web’s largest libraries with gobs of easy-to-understand legal info, they offer nine steps in the road to landlord negotiation.
A summary of “How to Negotiate a Settlement with your Landlord:”
What you want to happen. Are you staying put, or looking to get out of the lease? How ‘bout a simple apology…maybe a “I’ll-do-better” from your landlord will satisfy you. It comes down to deciding if you are willing to compromise and knowing where you’ll stop.
Get an appointment to discuss. Pick a neutral spot, one that’s maybe noise free; it might help in getting to ‘yes.’
Let the landlord vent. Remember how good it feels to be able to talk and the other person just listen? Hold back on interrupting the landlord as he starts talking, even though he may be getting his facts wrong. Crucial step here, as once he has his complaints out in the open, he may feel you are willing to listen.
Restate his key points and that you see his side. Tough to do, particularly if you disagree with his side; but restating his concerns might keep him from repeating his side, or specific points.
No personal attacks. Don’t fuel the flames of misunderstanding, or untrue statements. At all times, do not escalate or react emotionally, even if everything he says is bogus.
Courteous, not weak. Letting him know you know the law will establish the fact that you’re coming at the issues from a position of strength. Emphasis your willingness to work out something, while making known any evidence you might have.
It’s all about problem solving. Mutual agreement is what you’re hoping for; seek solutions that can benefit both parties.
Walk in his shoes. Reverse the roles and think how it might feel to work with unhappy tenants. Both sides have to feel they’ve won something.
Eureeka! Now get it in writing. Once you’ve reached ‘yes,’ then write down the points; always, step forward to write the first draft: “He who drafts, wins.”