Can I Pay Less Rent if the Elevator Stops Working?


Q: I live with my wife and 5-month-old baby in a market-rate rental on the sixth floor of a Hamilton Heights building. The building’s only elevator needs to be replaced and will be out of service for months, essentially turning our apartment into a sixth-floor walk-up. The silver lining: Our lease expires just before the work starts. What are our options? Should we try to negotiate a lower rent?

A: You can always try to negotiate your rent. In this case, you have a strong argument that the value of your apartment has been temporarily diminished. If you move, your landlord will be stuck trying to rent a sixth-floor apartment that is basically a walk-up. However, if your rent is already lower than comparable apartments in the area, the landlord may not be so eager to negotiate.

“Whenever negotiating with the landlord, the terms have to be beneficial to both parties,” said Jacob Henderson, a real estate salesperson with Citi Habitats.

Before you call your landlord, decide if you even want to stay. Look online for other available apartments. You may find a better deal elsewhere, even after accounting for moving costs and the headache of packing up with a baby in tow. But if your apartment is worth the inconvenience (or worth it with a concession), call the landlord.


If the landlord won’t lower the rent, ask for a credit covering the period when the elevator is out of service. Convincing the landlord to “drop the rent is harder than getting a credit,” Mr. Henderson said. If you move and the apartment is vacant for even one month, the landlord would lose money. So, suggest a free month’s rent, or a monthly discount for every month the elevator is under repair.

The landlord could take other steps to reduce the burden for you and your neighbors — like dedicating a place on the ground floor for storing strollers and collapsible shopping carts. Chairs placed on the landings could provide rest stops on the way up (providing they comply with fire safety rules.) If older or disabled tenants need help carrying groceries or heavy packages up the stairs, or assistance walking, management could hire additional staff to help. These measures may make your days more bearable, whether or not your rent is reduced.

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Sahred From Source link Real Estate

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