C-19 negotiations – PREPARE arm’s length discussions, rent or lease negs

Part 2 Negotiating during C-19 – PREPARE arms distance negs – rent or lease


This is an adapted transcript from a series of videos I created to help people with practical advice to negotiate during the challenging times we’re currently facing due to COVID-19 – the VLOG can be viewed on LinkedIn HERE

NEW INFORMATION – Here is Kate Carnell, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, explaining C-19 commercial tenancy arrangements new code: https://www.facebook.com/ASBFEO/videos/647970252689718/



It’s really crappy time at the moment, obviously, because there’s so many BIG conversations that we’re having to have. And they’re draining, it’s really taking it out of us. So please make sure you are taking good care of yourself and reaching out to the people you need to, to support you in these challenging times, when you’re making difficult decisions and having LOTS of difficult discussions. If I can be of help, please do reach out.


This piece is focussed on preparing for a complicated negotiation – in particular an arm’s length negotiations. Where you are not negotiating directly with the ultimate decision maker.


This example is in the case where you have to negotiate with a landlord, whether that’s for your work premises or for your home.


The reality is you’re not benefiting directly from the Government and banking institution’s current stimulus packages at the moment. So, you’re going to have to have a conversation with your landlord or your real estate agent.


But to be in a position to negotiate, the landlord too has to have had a conversation with their bank to know what their position is. With so much going on, your landlord may be dealing with their own negotiations and not been thinking about this discussion yet.


Everyone is in this challenging situation so your landlord shouldn’t be unreasonable or should not be closed to this conversation when you raise it. BUT be patient and be prepared that it might take a few conversations to work something out together.



The first step is to PREPARE yourself for the conversation, thinking through what you want before you go into a negotiation means you can be clear on what you’re asking for, and why it makes sense:


What are your circumstances:

In the most succinct way possible note down your situation and where that leaves you financially. Also note anything that is pending, such as the gap period from any monies that are coming to you, eg from the Government, and when your rent is due.


What are you asking for:

Ensure you are clear about what you’re asking for (and that it’s reasonable).


A rental reduction to zero for three months – is probably unlikely that people are in a position to do that – but if they have owned the property for a long time, then they might be able to offer you something significantly reduced (as they may have a small mortgage).

  • If they can do that, what does that mean for you? Is there a percentage you could contribute?


If you’ve been in the same rental property for a really long time, 10 years plus for example, there’s a chance the conversation with the landlord would be very positive.

  • You may want to ask them if they have already paid off their mortgage and are in a position to give you a big break.


What is the percentage saving off the rent that will truly help you?

  • What does that mean for you? For some people it’s actually going to mean the difference between saying or having to move out.


As a property owner, you’re going to want to keep somebody in the house paying something, rather than lose them and have zero rent coming in.


So, if you look at it from both angles there’s actually upside for everybody here, and everybody’s going to have to take hit.



It’s important that you note down your thoughts and perhaps a little script to help you step through the negotiation.


The conversation may be something along the lines of:


“Have you had an opportunity to speak to your bank yet to see what benefits are available to you from the current stimulus package that’s being offered?”


  • Starting out the conversation around have they had a chance to have that conversation yet because everyone’s got so much going on shows empathy.


Response options – “YES, NO, NOT YET”


  • Depending on where they are in the process, the conversation is about working together to see what the knock on effects of their discussions might be.
  • If they have had the conversation, they may have been able to secure a reduction in home loan rates, or are they may have been able to hold over the mortgage on the property you lease or rent for a number of months (meaning they will pay zero dollars for 3 or 6 months).
  • If they haven’t had the conversation yet, ask them to do so and set up a time for a follow up discussion.


Based on how they went with their bank, it’s about discussing:

  • What are they able to offer to you, and what you’re trying to achieve – what’s possible and what’s fair.
  • It’s opening a dialogue to have a reasonable conversation.


If they tell you “I’m in the same boat as you, I lost my job, so I can’t help.”

  • That’s not really a truth, as a mortgagee they can do a lot, but as a renter you don’t have that direct line of site – so you may want to guide them by talking through what you’ve heard is available from the Government and the banks.


Not on email

Now sometimes you can’t actually have that conversation directly with the person straight away, it may need to start on an email. This is unfortunate because I really hate having to negotiate an email, so send an email, but keep it as minimal as possible:

  • “Are you open to having a conversation about what’s possible in terms of the rent that’s due on [this date]”, then just open the conversation.
  • Don’t just throw everything into an email and hope for the best.


This approach sees you throwing it all open and having given no options or given too many options, perhaps, makes it as easy as possible for it to just become a conversation.


A conversation, by the way, is what negotiating is all about in the everyday world, away from the craziness that we’re experiencing right now.



The timing for this conversation will be dependent on where you are in terms of your rental cycle. So bear that in mind you may not have to have this conversation this week, it could be something you can put off for two weeks but if it’s not, then you know where you are based on your prioritised list of things that you need to deal with next.



Ensuring you think through all those steps before you go and actually have the conversation, will give you greater confidence, and help keep you calm when taking the first step.

Good luck!


About Sam Trattles – Sam has built a career around negotiation – through marketing, brand, and sponsorship roles over 20 years. She builds capability and confidence in your people by creating strategies that deliver positive business results. Unlocking the value in all your deals. Sam is a straight shooter, she is practical and likes to share her knowledge to help others learn to love negotiating (or to at least, not to hate it). Because it’s worth a great deal.

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