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I am a freelance writer for newspapers,magazines as well as a journalist for TV.
I am from Tokyo, Japan and have been living in Los Angeles since 1990.

#70- Good deal???

Am I a good negotiator?!...I wrote this question in my blog on Jan 31, 2009.

Every year, I negotiate my apartment rent (see my Jan 31, 2009 blog) and I did it this year rent in March. At this economic downtime…my apartment company/apartment manager was planning to raise my rent for 6% (increase $77), but I negotiated my rent with my apartment manager and she gave me 1.5 %( $20) discount which means my rent increased 4.5% (increased $57) from March.

It was happy result at the time, but I found out that my next door girl’s rent was stay the same for another year until 2010 (but she has been lived here longer than me and her rent is more than mine.)

Anyway, I told my apartment manager “I found out that some people’s rent stay the same. Why did you increase my rent this year? It’s unfair! I told you that my friend who lives in Torrance, her rent decreased because of this economy downtime.You shouldn’t increase my rent.”

At the time, the manager told me “Our apartment has many staff and we are working for you everyday, so you can’t compare to any other apartments, and I discounted your rent every year and you have a great deal compare to the other residents, you know that.”

Yes, I know, I have a great deal at this place. I have a nice view (pool, trees, flowers and hills side green view), clean rooms, fitness center…but I feel like I deserve better!

Ha! My wish came true!

The manager sent me a letter the other day…”At***, we recognize that today’s economic climate impacts everyone. None of us really know what to expect over the next several months. While there are signs that the economy may be recovering, we know that there is still some uncertainly out there. We recognize that your rent check is often the large single expense, so we would like to offer you the opportunity for some peace of mind by providing budget certainty on your rent with an early lease extension opportunity. If you extend your lease within 30 days as offered below, you will not incur an increase of any kind in your monthly rent for the term indicated. Your rent will stay the same, and we will have the benefit of knowing you’ll stay with us for a longer period of time.” And this letter continues 9 more lines.

Of course, today, I tried to negotiate my rent with my apartment manager and the assistant manager to decrease my rent, but she and he told me “Yoko, you don’t need to negotiate with us until February 2011.”

I asked the assistant manager: I know you guys have a new price for new residents. How much is the most reasonable rent for new residents?

The assistant manager: Every room is deferent.

Me: I know, but just give me some average numbers.

The assistant manager: (He showed me the paper) You see here for example, we offer to new people decrease rent from $*** to $*** , but still $5 more than yours, which means you still have a great deal.

Me: Ok…I trust you guys…! I feel better now. Thank you very much for your service. I don’t have to think about the negotiation until February 2011.

The manager: Yoko, we don’t give this offer to everyone.

Really??? The letter says…”we recognize that today’s economic climate impacts everyone.”

But…I think this offer is good for me. I don’t think my apartment company (one of the major company in the states) will decrease our rent next year.

Me: I know, you guys always nice to me! I am so happy to live here. I feel safe and always clean everywhere. Nice trees and flowers. I am very happy to be here! You guys give me a great service. I really appreciate it.

But…I still wonder do I really have a great deal???

By Yoko Fujimoto
Los Angeles
August 26, 2009

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