When looking for an apartment for rent in Ho Chi Minh City, how to negotiate?
Finding apartment for rent in Ho Chi Minh can be tricky. Sometimes you think you’ve found the one, but it’s expensive, or the terms of the rental aren’t great. The good news is that in many cases it’s possible to negotiate a slightly better deal — agents are keen to get their commission, so will work hard to broker an arrangement that’s satisfying to both parties, and landlords usually want to rent out their properties as quickly as possible to reliable tenants.
And while trying too hard to negotiate can sometimes lose you the apartment for rent in Ho Chi Minh (someone else might come along who’s prepared to sign the rental without changing a thing), it doesn’t hurt to try and get the best deal possible. Here are a few of the things you can try to negotiate before signing a rental:
Duration of stay
You can try to negotiate for an earlier or later move-in date, but this really depends on the landlord. In our first apartment, we managed to negotiate an early move-in and a free week. It pays to try!
One of the greatest negotiating tip you have is how long your rental is for — most rental contracts are a year long, but if you choose to sign for over a year, you can often negotiate for other benefits like reduced rent.
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Just because the listing on housingsgn.com as US$800 a month doesn’t mean that figure is set in stone — it’s normal to try and negotiate down the price a little bit, as long as you keep it reasonable and respectful. You probably won’t be able to shave more than a couple of thousand (if that) off, and the very most we have ever heard of is a full 5-8%. You will have more negotiating power if you can pay a few months of rent upfront.
Like rent, sometimes the deposit can be reduced from the standard two months to a month and a half or just a month. We would be wary of anyone prepared to forgo the deposit completely, as it may mean they are illegally renting the property.
You will find that the rent for some apartment for rent in Ho Chi Minh includes all or some utility bills, while others do not. If it does include bills, you can often negotiate the rent down if you agree to pay all bills yourself — of course, this is only economical if you think you won’t use much in terms of electricity and water, etc.
You can also try to negotiate for certain bills to be included in the overall rent — the internet or management fee, for example. You may also want to double-check exactly what is included in each bill that you will be paying — you may be charged an additional fee for waste disposal that you assumed was included in the management fee, for example.
You may not be able to reduce the rent because of the furniture (though you can try), but the best time to negotiate what furniture stays and goes is before you sign the rental. Sometimes owners will agree to change furniture, or at the very least remove items you do not need.
You may want to check furniture for mould or damage that would mean it would fall apart on your watch. If the apartment is unfurnished, you can suggest that you will buy furniture and leave it after you move if the owner gives you a better deal.
Some buildings in Ho Chi Minh offer a garbage/recycling disposal service, while many do not. If you have lived in a building with no trash disposal service, you will know how annoying it can get to remember exactly which days to dispose of it yourself, but we have a life hack — we actually know people who were able to successfully negotiate for the owner to help arrange a deal between tenants and waste collectors in the area, so that their trash was collected from their door. It’s a bit of a long shot, but it’s been done before!
Terms of the rental
Read your rental carefully before signing anything. Rental contracts here can sometimes have weird clauses like not being able to cook or have visitors of a certain gender, so it’s imperative that you know there’s nothing dodgy in yours that could cause you trouble in the future.
Usually, if the owner agrees, you can just cross off these parts on the spot and both sign where you made the changes so there’s no need to go back and reprint the contract.
So there you have it. This list is by no means comprehensive, nor are you guaranteed to reach an agreement with any one owner. A respectful way to start negotiations is by telling the owner or agent how much you love the apartment, but that it’s a little bit over your budget, or doesn’t have X piece of furniture, etc.
In some cases, the agent or owner will agree to a reduced price or to a change or terms because they want to get the rental signed as soon as possible — just don’t test them too much, because you might lose the opportunity if you drag your heels. Apartments here can be snapped up in a matter of days, if not hours!
Photo credit: Bao Zoan Photography