How to Turn Technical Mishaps Into Discounted Rent

Our apartment building had a few false fire alarms this past weekend. Not one, not two—but three false alarms, the third of which happened early Monday morning at 1:30 AM. No, they weren't running any awkwardly-timed fire drills or testing the system (we asked management). It was just a horrible technical mishap—and here's how it paid out for us.

Our apartment is wired up for safety.

When the fire alarm is set off at our apartment building, a piercing howl offensively screeches from the innocent little white safety boxes on the walls of each living and bedroom in the complex.

While this advanced safety gear is one of the reasons we chose our building (and we get a discount on our renter's insurance for it!), we don't take kindly to being woken up (twice!) by false alarms.

It turns out the network of safety alarms, like any tech, is prone to mishaps. But that doesn't mean you have to sit and take it.


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If your apartment building is prone to technical problems (like frequent power outages, or something else you couldn't have seen before signing the lease), contact your landlord or building management to see if you can work out a deal for discounted rent.

After a few polite emails to our building's management, we're getting a break on January's rent!

Of course, we have some advice for you:

  • Determine fault: Don't run to your landlord after a 45 second power blackout. Many mishaps like that are not the fault of the building or it's management. We spoke politely with our apartment's management office and discovered that the fire alarms were malfunctioning—not being repeatedly pulled.
  • Pick your battles: You only have legs for discounted rent if the tech mishap was a serious problem, interfering significantly with your life. In our case, we were woken up from that precious, getting-ready-for-the-workweek Sunday night sleep—twice. When you speak with the landlord, mention exactly how you were impacted by your building's technical problems.
  • Be polite: You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Remember you're essentially asking for a big favor, here. So tread lightly, maintain composure and be extra polite.
  • Offer a solution: You won't get anything if you don't ask for what you want. When you speak with your landlord, offer up an outcome that would make you happy. Be specific and, more importantly, be reasonable. We didn't ask for a free month's rent, but we did ask for a 10 percent discount. If you're paying any premiums (like a "community fee," pet rent or an upcharge for a high floor), those are usually a great place to ask for discounts.



(Images: Flickr member hellosputnik licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member Mark Strozier licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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Taryn is a writer, maker, designer, and editor of lifestyle blog Formal Fringe. She lives in an apartment in Atlanta with her fiancé, their Boston Terrier and lots of serving dishes.