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I rent an upper mid-class standard flat, solo, Warsaw, Poland. The only big drawback is heat. From about April to September room temperature stays at >26 Celsius day and night. This lowers sleep quality at night and comfort at all times. An air conditioner seems to be the best solution, but I don't want to pay full price. How can I ask my landlord to buy it or at least partially fund it? Over email unless advised otherwise.

Landlord - me relation

I've been living here for about 1,5 years. The landlord has multiple flats (a few I think since he still manages them himself) but outsources looking for new tenants to a company. I was negotiating prices with a worker of the company first (got them down by ~10%), then met the landlord to sign documents. This is the only time I met him. The rest of our communication is by emails and SMS and is rare. I got only 2 invoices for utilities so far. Seems like he doesn't want to commit much time to the flat.

In the beginning there was another, even bigger disadvantage of the flat - a bathtub with no curtain for taking shower. I pointed it out and he told me that's not a problem and he will send a handyman to install it. What surprised me was that I had to pay the full costs of materials and work to the handyman. The landlord didn't indicate in any way that I will be the payer.

The flat

It's a "studio" - it has a single very big room with a kitchen part (I wanted exactly that). The only windows are from one side and are doors to a balcony at the same time. The normal door is on the other side, so currently the only way to effectively cool it down is to leave my front and balcony doors open for like a half an hour. Leaving balcony doors open at all times isn't a good option because there's grass on the balcony (bugs) and it's not totally quiet outside. I rarely have direct sunlight so blocking it won't solve the problem.

As for the standard of the flat, it has everything modern. If not for the heat I would be totally satisfied.

I don't know how long I will live there. I think at least half a year but it's very probable that a few years. Still I don't want to pay full price for air conditioning since it's investing in a flat that I don't own.

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A while back I wanted air conditioning in a townhouse I rented. I got a price on it of 2,200.00USD for central air conditioning, which was low at the time. I talked it over with the landlord, and he agreed to have it installed. But he said I would have to sign a new one-year lease with a 25.00USD/month rent increase, which was small in comparison to the total rent of 1,500/month.

So, I thought it was worth it. In our discussion he didn't seem interested in my input as to the benefit to himself as an investment in his property, but was more interested in how unbearable it was for me to live in the heat.

If you do your homework it will show you are serious about it. Property owner/managers generally have connections from whom they can obtain better prices than the average consumer. so the price you obtain might not be of much consequence to your landlord. But it will still demonstrate that you are serious.

Way back when I managed 600+ apartment units. The cost of a bad tenant is so high (roughly 4,000USD per eviction, plus unpaid rent and property damage), that I would sign off on practically any reasonable request a 'good' tenant had, as long as it was a good investment for the owners.

That information should come in handy during your interaction with your landlord. The main obstacle to making improvements on occupied units is that tenants won't agree, because of the disruption. One building I had there was a deal that any tenant could have the old carpeting removed and the floors sanded and varnished, and have a remodeled bathroom, free, with no rent increase, and no one accepted. That was about 4,000USD worth of improvement at the time.

That information should give you confidence in working with your landlord toward a solution. So, I would do the above, and just ask for what you want. You'd be surprised how much landlords are willing to do.

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    This is useful information - i'd suggest that the response be edited to encompass an interpersonal skill to meet the purpose of this site. How would OP present this to their landlord? In light of this info, how will OP's discussion change? – baldPrussian Apr 25 '18 at 14:40
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I'll leave aside the landlord-tenant relationship and landlord's obligation and focus on the question itself.

I'd gather information. What are the rest of the flats in the area like? How would it benefit the landlord to install AC? It goes without saying that AC would benefit you and that you want it, but (quite frankly) that's not the landlord's concern. The landlord's concern is how quickly he can rent the flat, for how long, and how profitable that can be.

Then I'd meet with the landlord. I'd point out that similar rents in the area have AC and his does not and as a tenant, it seems silly to pay the same and get less. You don't have to point out marketing, etc. - he's probably familiar with that. If he agrees to put it in, I'd say that, since the AC would be to his long-term benefit, you don't see why you should invest in his property. (Given your use of the word "flat", I assume you're in the UK. I'm not sure about the laws there. In the US, I don't think it's legal for the landlord to make the tenant pay for improvements to the property. IANAL.)

Too many of these negotiations focus on the benefit of the requestor. Focus on the benefit to the requestee - that shows that you are not thinking of just yourself and that there's a benefit to meeting your request.

  • Thanks! Unfortunately the flat is quite unique in the area, but I'll search anyway (and take a closer look at how many neighbours have air conditioning). Do you think that focusing on landlord's benefits will end up in me paying more for the rent after the installation? – Ctrl-C Apr 25 '18 at 13:36
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    @Ctrl-C Almost anything is possible. I'm not sure what Polish law allows here. In the US it is difficult for a landlord to raise the rent during a lease, as that's a contract and would need to be re-negotiated. That's a question for a lawyer and not a nice guy from the internet. :) It most likely would mean that the landlord will charge more for the next tenant. – baldPrussian Apr 25 '18 at 14:14
  • "there's a benefit to meeting your request" Definitely. Is it important for your landlord that you are satisifed? Would you leave the flat if A/C is not there? If you would, would it be difficult for your landlord to rent it to someone else? – Suma Apr 25 '18 at 14:35
  • @Suma 1. I don't know. 2. I'm thinking about it as one of possible solutions. 3. I think that it may be difficult to rent it during summer, even with preparations prior to visits. Coming back to 2., as of now I see no competition in quality/price among offers that have air conditioning. – Ctrl-C Apr 25 '18 at 14:58
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Your first step in building a solid argument is realizing that your landlord does not owe you air conditioning. A/C is an amenity, and so is anything in your apartment that is not due to you by right as a renter.

Now, with very few exceptions, you will only be able to convince your landlord to give your unit an additional amenity by explaining why its adoption would benefit your landlord.


How we convinced a landlord to grant us amenities:

I will use my own experience to illustrate a few ways that one might appeal to a landlord. In my case, there is a lot of tenant turnover in my area due to the fact that we are mainly university students, so my housemates and I decided to focus on amenities that would add immediate and significant value to future tenants at minimal cost.

Why did we need a garbage disposal? Because our landlord was losing money and time twice a month organizing a laborer to unclog our kitchen sink. $200 to fix an ongoing problem, and it would be appealing to future renters.

Why did we need a modern refrigerator? Because our landlord was losing money and time every two months organizing a laborer to fix issues on the old fridge. Not to mention that spoiled food could cause a tenant to fall extremely sick, and liability would be at the hand of the landlord. The cost of a new fridge greatly outweighs footing a tenant's hospital bill.

Why did we need him to build a wall through the dining room to separate the room from the living area? We didn't. But the living room was so expansive and we were tired of sharing rooms, so we pitched it to our landlord, explaining to him that after we moved out he could market his unit as a 3 bedroom, 2 bath instead of a 2bd/2bth. Huge increase in rent value for the one-time cost of some lumber and labor.

We got it all.

Now did I get an A/C? No. He saw this as an amenity that is specific to a more expensive building. However, he was willing to install one A/C window unit for no charge, and would install any additional units we purchased on our own for free.


How you can negotiate the amenity with your landlord:

Now you understand that seeing it from your landlord's perspective is the most important step you will take in moving towards actualizing your goal. As long as you do not come from a place of entitlement to this amenity, he will probably be willing to at last hear you out.

I realize that most people care if their tenants are in extreme discomfort, however it does not sound like you are necessarily managed by one of those gems.

In your case, you might have to put your bravest hat on and address the issue in a respectful but straightforward, even forceful manner.

Do you want to appeal to his business side? Are you willing to realize that your rent may increase if you start him on thinking about property value and rentability?

The apartment has been excessively hot for some time now and it's been impacting my sleep and health. As your tenant, I would like you to please consider installing an air cooling system. Not only would your tenants be healthier, but it would be a valuable investment in an amenity that would make you far more competitive to other units in the area.

Do you want to appeal to his emotional side?

Are you considering installing an air cooling system? I've been feeling dizzy and ill due to the unbearable heat of the apartment, and I believe this would greatly alleviate the issue for myself as well as your future tenants.

Are you willing to compromise to increase your chances of success?

... and I would be willing to compromise and shoulder some of the cost.

If all else fails, suggest the installation of temporary/ movable air conditioning unit. This is much cheaper and probably a more attractive option to your landlord.

Good luck my friend, I do sympathize with your situation.

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I believe you should get leverage. That's the only thing that matters to a negotiation and I believe there is no such thing such as "fairness".

You actually need a few elements that are very important to a negotiation:

  1. See what is the landlord status. If he is in need of cash, he might be tempted to accept a raise in his cash flow - by raising the rent just a little bit - and in exchange you can get the AC.
  2. See what you can offer him. You actually can trade a few things for the AC: sell or extend a fidelity contract for your landlord, in exchange for the AC; give a small raise in the rent for the AC - maybe a small fraction of that discount you got; barter some item with him for the AC installation; buy the AC and split the price with him, saying that this will increase the value of the rent. It could even be some combination of those examples.
  3. Have an alternative. This means that you should have another course of action, in case he refuses everything you offer. If your alternative is really good - such as finding some other apartment that has the AC and is similar in price and comfort - you have more leverage to negotiate with him. If you need to bluff, do so in "credible lies", the ones that are credible enough for him to believe.
  4. Know what you want at least and at most. Having a nice thought of what you want at least - AC in the room - is necessary to avoid being fooled by the landlord. Also, don't get way too greedy: have a realistic upper limit to what you'd love to have - such as an AC that enough power to leave the room in a comfortable state and not some large sized AC, big enough to snow inside your room.
  5. Engage him with the offer. Do not sit and wait for him to think about your needs. You have to tell him what you want and what will you do - if you got enough leverage - if your terms are not met.
  6. Understand that the negotiation has to be balanced. Be polite, respectful and present your needs first and present what you could do for him. He is a businessman, so he understands that having an angry or dissatisfied tenant is bad for business. As a way to keep the negotiation in the rails, mention your alternative - if you have any - or bluff, if you don't have one. As a last resort, use your alternative.

This might help you to increase the odds of getting the AC. In any scenario, remember: be polite, respectful and only use your alternative as a last resort.

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