Don't Fall for This Negotiating Tactic

I recently had a contact, a charitable organization that is leasing space, ask me if they could somehow get a reduction in their rent by offering a charitable donation receipt to the landlord. The problem they had was that they weren't sure who the landlord was or how to approach him to broach the subject. They had a contact, referred to as the 'property manager', so there had been no real problems with maintenance or upkeep on the property. They just didn't know who the owner was.

Turns out that the owner had just been calling himself the 'property manager' and since they had signed a lease through a broker and the name on the paper was a numbered company this was the only contact they had.

Calling himself the property manager allows him to 'refer to a higher power' i.e. ask the boss if it's okay, a tactic used during negotiations when all he really wants is an opportunity to think over a proposal without making a snap decision.

The counter to the 'refer to a higher power' tactic is this: Agree with him, but ask for a commitment now that is conditional upon the approval of the higher power.

Tenant: "John, we are a registered charity and we would really appreciate a modest reduction in our rent in exchange for a charitable donation receipt from us. This will do a couple of things, it'll really help out our organization which is trying very hard to do some good in the community and you'll receive some tax benefit for allowing the reduction. What do you say?"

John: "Well...I'm not sure. I'll have to check with the owner to see if this is something he's comfortable with and get back to you.

Tenant: "Okay, I understand completely that you can't commit to something like this without authorization. That said, should the owner be amenable to this kind of arrangement, is there any reason we couldn't start this with our next rent check? Assuming you get approval, of course! When can we expect an answer?" (Said with a big bright smile!)

What's he going to say? No? So what if he does? At least you tried and now you know. Turning this around and trying to get some kind of commitment from the person using the higher power tactic is a good way to try pin them down.


Doug Lytle

Doug Lytle

Branch Manager
CENTURY 21 United Realty Inc., Brokerage*
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