photo of a dilapidated apartment
Valeriya Rychkova via istockphoto

11 People Who Talked Their Way Out of Rent Increases On How They Did it

It's actually possible, legal and advisable to try to negotiate your landlord's unconscionable rent increase. We spoke with some tenants who were successful.
Arielle Richards
Melbourne, AU

So, your landlord has decided to slap you with a rent increase. Times are weird, sure, but it’s more likely they’ve just done a cursory Google search and were embittered to discover that their neighbour-lords were squeezing way more out of their tenants. 

It’s not like they need the extra income, it’s simply the shrewd thing to do. 

Or maybe it isn’t the landlord’s vampiric ambition to suck, suck, suck you dry… Maybe it’s the real estate agent’s idea. It’s only fair these bottom feeders would leap at the faintest whiff of blood in the water to glean a little extra commission off the top of an “advised 10 percent increase” to “bring the property in line with the market”. Ah yes yes yes… the market. 


But not all hope is lost. 

Claudia Conley, community manager at Flatmates, said while they weren’t well known, rent price negotiations are “definitely possible”.

“Many renters, especially young inexperienced renters, might not understand their rights or what’s on the table for negotiation,” she told VICE.

If you receive a notice of a rent rise, Conley said, you should do your research before entering negotiations. Find out your suburb’s median rent for your house size, and compare your home’s quality to similar ones in your area.

“Definitely find out if a price increase chat with your landlord is on the table and whether you’ll need to move out if you can’t meet the new price.”

If your home is deteriorating, you can also bring that into negotiations to add value alongside the price rise. Say, if your home is needing an aircon or dishwasher, you can possibly negotiate those improvements in line with the price rise.

But has this actually worked for anyone? Actually, yes. VICE spoke with a bunch of tenants who successfully negotiated out of extreme rent increases. Take note. 

Fern, 20, Brunswick West, VIC

My apartment is a shithole that my roommate and I have done up and after an inspection they tried to increase our rent on the basis of how much it’s improved. We showed them photos of what a dump it was beforehand and threatened to leave. They wanted an extra $60 a week based on the fact there were fewer marks on the walls and a couple of other things, but we had pics of everything from when we moved in so we literally got out the receipts and pulled the uni student sob story.

Sami, 25, Brisbane CBD, QLD

We signed a lease in February 2022 for $410 per week. In 2023 the landlord said gimme your money we want 550 now, we responded saying $460 aligns with the 10% rental increase of the market and the price of units of our size and value, we will sign a new 12 month lease today to give you the security and he accepted!

In 2024 they said gimme $600!!! We have people waiting to move in if you say no!!!! This is non negotiable!!! 


We said there have been no improvements to this unit, but also we know the rental market has increased dramatically in BNE so we will be happy with 550 and he came back with 570, which we signed. Our neighbours were told the same and replied asking whether it was up for negotiation to which the landlords responded by listing their unit.  

I’m a lawyer and am very privileged to have an education in arguing. My friends have accepted rental increases without even trying to negotiate because they didn’t know they could, let alone how to email the person controlling their living situation. Hopefully this gives people confidence to at LEAST try! Reference other properties available that are newer, have nicer facilities, are recently renovated. Show your landlord that there are other affordable options for you but you are a great tenant and want to continue to live in your current home – which is more convenient for both of you! 

Bargaining chips I have used are 1. Tell them if they accept the price, you’re happy to sign today (even if your lease doesn’t end for another 3-4 months). And 2. Be open to a lease term that suits the landlord. Some want longer tenancies to ensure steady income flow for 12 months et cetera, whereas others want shorter terms so that they can increase the rent again.

Kia, 26, Melb CBD, VIC

Around September last year my lease agreement was expiring and I wanted to continue the lease. My property agent told me the landlord wanted to increase the rent from $350 to $420 a week. She asked if I was ok with that and I said no, and I asked for it to be $390 a week. She replied saying the landlord insisted on $420, and then I responded back and said $400, and again they wouldn’t budge, and I didn’t reply to them, and started looking for inspections. 

I started applying for places, and a new agent started calling my current agent and that was when they called me back and said “oh you know the landlord thought about it and $400 a week is fine”. His excuse was that he “needed the money for maintenance” – heavy stress on “maintenance”. All he’s done since is change a lightbulb. The range hood needs to be replaced, the aircon needs to be fixed. They’ve just said it’s coming.


Zane, 28, Coburg, VIC

Private landlord – we said we couldn’t afford it so she just didn’t increase it. It was fucked though, we agreed to a $2607 lease transfer and the day before we moved in she suggested $2900. She’s very wealthy and her husband lives overseas and so her only job is to make sure the house is filled. Her husband was the one who suggested an increase, so at just the slightest rebuttal she was like “eh, I don’t care, just take it”. Very lucky, very rare.

Stella, 27, Stanmore NSW

We said no to a $100 increase and ended up having to pay $60. We’d had a huge leak in a bedroom a few months before and wanted a decrease because the room was unliveable. They wanted to offer us $100 off or whatever and we had to explain the room costs $235 so we need that much off each week – they view the house as a whole, not individual people who pay different amounts based on room size et cetera. It’s like they think we live in a five person house just for fun. 

Jaiya, 26, Coburg, VIC

They wanted to increase it 10 per cent but we negotiated it to 7 per cent. We live in a house that has no insulation, one big room has been split to create two small rooms and everything is on a little slant, among so many other things. Since I moved in almost three years ago, we have done so many little fixes ourselves so we haven’t had to keep pestering the real estate. This included doing 2 tip runs (paid out of our own pocket) to get rid of all the gross rubbish, broken furniture and shit that previous tenants had accumulated over the years.

We justified asking for a lower increase as we noted all these issues and proved that we have already been paying for so much more just to make our house a lovely home.


Angel, 27, Brunswick VIC

They asked for a rental increase out of nowhere, including backpay. They said “oh by the way your rent went up three months ago and you need to backpay us $400”. And I said Ummm that’s bizarre and illegal and also the math is wrong. They said it was a $40 increase for each month so should have been $120 backpaid, if anything, but we were in the middle of a year long lease and in our contract it literally said no increases for the whole year. 

So I pointed out they were being illegal AND that their illegal back pay math was wrong. And then two days later their accountant emailed me saying oops sorry you’re right it’s $120 back paid and I said ummm still not paying that it’s illegal.

And they kind of just hoped I would cave and pay it, I think they’d pulled that move before. They said they had had the property re-evaluated and that’s why they were doing the increase, they were super stubborn. And then finally I just called the ombudsman who went over the contract again and called them and basically told them to fuck off. They never apologised.

Samson, 27, Marrickville NSW

Our house flooded in a really hectic stormy period in February of 2022. My room became completely flooded and a shitload of mould started to grow and it meant I couldn't live there.

It stayed completely soaked for, like, a week or so. Then they asked us to pay an extra $100 a week. We asked for a rental decrease because of the room, they said no, but agreed not to hike up the rent, "for now". I couldn't live in my room and the rest of the house had also become mouldy, so we tried to negotiate a rental decrease. The landlord consistently declined so I took them to the rental tribunal, won, and they owed us several thousand dollars worth of rent. They never paid and changed real estate agencies so we couldn't contact them. Then I took them to court and our lawyer forcibly took money from their new real estate agent's account without their permission, as granted by the court. They had to pay our legal costs too. It was such a satisfying victory but God it took a long time.


Lena, 26, Carlton North VIC

They wanted to put our rent up 50 bucks a week or more. And we were like absolutely not. We looked at all the other apartments in the area and saw we were paying about the same, and our house didn’t have a dishwasher or aircon, all of the apartments in our building had aircon. So we said no, that’s unacceptable, and they said no no we absolutely have to put it up. They said ok, we accept $100 a month. It was a three bedroom house. We said we’ll pay $100 a month if you put in aircon. We emailed a whole case as to why we deserved aircon, got a thermometer, and were recording temperatures of 30 degrees inside the house. They agreed, and put in aircon, and it actually worked in our favour.

Dasha, 27, Brunswick VIC

My housemate was the one who wrote a really boss letter, but basically they were wanting a $100 a week increase, and we appealed for 50% on the ground that $100 was beyond our financial capacity, so in that case we’d walk. We were kind of bluffing and hoping they wouldn’t call it. And we pointed out how much we had done for the garden and how great we took care of the house et cetera to remind them just how good they had it! We figured they probably wouldn’t be wanting to spend the money involved with putting it up for lease again, and a lot of the time it’s actually the agents who are putting pressure on the landlords to increase. Anyway, they accepted.

Angeline, 32, Newtown NSW

Both times, it was a $100 increase, so $25 extra a head in a four-person sharehouse. The first time was easier because it was 2022 and the La Niña mould epidemic, so we'd all got dehumidifiers to manage hectic mould. I went back to them saying we'd spent X amount of money maintaining the property, as well as generally taking care of it – the real estate inspected the week before and said it was the best sharehouse she'd seen which was... a dud thing to say if you're then going to increase someone's rent – and essentially said it would be in worse condition if we weren't there. 

I went into extremely granular detail about other issues we had with the house and steps we had to take to avoid damage. They waved the whole increase.


Last year, it was harder because there hadn't been any major environmental disaster

so I basically ran the same line about taking care of the place and areas of damage in the house the landlords and agents had ignored. Then I was just really explicit about the fact that two of the people in the smaller bedrooms couldn't afford the rental increase and would need to move out. 

There are two bedrooms that are essentially children's bedrooms or studies that are very hard to rent to anyone over the age of 26 who isn’t looking for a super super cheap room. So I said if they put the rent up $25 on those rooms, the people in them would need to move out and they'd be incredibly hard to fill for the price because they're not actual "standard" bedrooms. And the two people in the normal rooms couldn't absorb the whole rent increase because the house was just not worth it ( with all of the problems, and compared to similar properties in the area). So we'd all potentially move out. I then asked to "open negotiations with the landlord", which I think fills people's hearts with cbf.

I have found it helpful to put a value on yourself as a renter. Because there are a lot of really annoying tenants out there and I think a lot of landlords just ask for a rent increase because it’s that time of year. But if they're faced with some kind of negotiation with people they've otherwise had no problems with they'll often just ceebs

I also said how much care we’d taken to fill the place with with responsible people – as soon as tenancy changes the landlord opens themselves out to nightmare people moving in and trashing the place so a lot of them at the end of the day would rather avoid the hassle of displacing a bunch of poor but upstanding young people.

Also they’re not aware of all the stuff you’re doing or “minor” problems with the house that the real estate agents don’t make a note of so it’s good to kind of remind them of potential issues they’d need to fix were they to sell it or re-list the place. 

Sometimes the agency just tries to raise rent without the landlord asking because they just want to look like they’re doing something, so asking to “open negotiations with the owner” along with a big list of issues will make them drop it because “work”.

Arielle Richards is the multimedia reporter at VICE Australia, follow her on Instagram and TikTok.