*This post is part of the Short and Feisty Finance Series*
I knew that moving from a small city on the east coast to Los Angeles would squeeze my wallet until it was contorted into an almost unrecognizable shape.
I knew that my $1,050 rent for an incredibly spacious 2 bedroom duplex with 2 sun rooms, a living room, formal dining room, a screened-in back porch, and 1.5 bathrooms (sigh) would just be a distant memory of a life once lived.
But HOLY CRAP–it’s expensive to live here! And not just in the city–the suburbs are just as bad (if not worse–I’m looking at you, Manhattan Beach and Burbank)!
I knew less than 5 people in Los Angeles when I made the trek West. One of my best friend’s aunts lived in the OC, but I only really knew one friend within the city limits (hi, Amy!) and we’d never spent a significant amount of one-on-one time together. She was sweet enough to let me stay with her for two weeks, rent free, after landing here off of the 10 freeway (that’s another thing–in LA, they aren’t “interstates” or “highways”–they’re “freeways”).
It just so happened that a unit in her rent-controlled building opened up. Though my rent for this one bedroom was more expensive than my 2 bedroom apartment back home (sigh, again), I also had a friend moving to LA the following month that would move-in and split it with me.
Fast-forward nearly three years. Because of the rent control, my rent had only been raised twice and only by $100 total. I had gone from an “ok” paying job, to a high paying nanny job, to a high-ish paying nanny job within that time span. I was also living in the apartment solo as my roommate relocated to NYC.
Now that my hours are lower with my current nanny family (on account of only working 3 solid days a week), I was feeling the squeeze on my wallet again. My rent was due to be raised at the beginning of September by another $50 and I was starting to sweat.
To State the Obvious: I have deduced that moving into a shared space situation, though seemingly more economical, isn’t so much for me. The cost of my rent-controlled one bedroom is evening out with the cost of a two bedroom share in the neighborhoods I feel comfortable living in (as in, I’m not AS afraid to walk home alone from my car in the dark). The price of renting has skyrocketed in the last three years and if the rent is dirt cheap in Los Angeles, chances are, you’re safety isn’t guaranteed.
Back to my dilemma: the rent is too damn high.
I knew that a rent increase wouldn’t completely kill my budget, but I wanted to do anything possible to keep it from happening. I also knew that one of the most basic principles of negotiation was to start at either extreme (really low or really high) and negotiate your way to the middle.
So, one week ago, instead of asking them to freeze my rent, I straight up asked them to lower it.
In an email I sent through my building manager, I laid out several facts:
- I have faithfully paid my rent in-full and on-time for nearly three years,
- I am single, no kids, and no pets (which is a hot commodity on the rental market!),
- I have always followed the noise guidelines outlined in my contract (unlike other tenants in my building),
- I reminded them that I wrote an awesome YELP! review for my rental company back in January,
- I praised the property (it really is lovely) and pointed out several tenants that had been in the building for 10+ years and how much I wanted to live there as long as possible.
A few days passed before I got any sort of response and there were several “Doubting Thomases(or Doubting Evans, ahem)” in my acquaintance who thought I wouldn’t get any sort of break from my building owners.
Three days later, my apartment manager emailed back–the long and short of it is that they just rented a unit in my building for $295/mo more than I am currently paying (a quick zillow search confirmed. Zillow is my bff). BUT, she put in a good word for me, and since I gave them some valid points, they’re going to freeze my rent for the next year.
HUZZAH and Hallelujah.