Let’s face it:

Renting in New York City is, and will always be, one of the most trying challenges you’ll face as an adult. But, I have some good news. If you’re still wondering why it’s such a challenge, and haven’t read any of the other million blog entries telling the rental cautionary tales, then here’s a quick recap:

  • It’s a matter of high demand meets limited supply. Everything in New York City is exceptional: the job market, the people, the food, the entertainment, the networking opportunities – this writer can go on and on about the remarkable assets of NYC. A city this nice attracts people from everywhere, and therein lies the problem. With 8.5 million inhabitants, all looking for their place in a small and very coveted island,  it’s no wonder that New York City is the 6th most densely populated city in the United States.
  • Housing laws protect the tenant (really). You’ve vaguely heard about the outrageous income-to-rent ratio, and the arm and leg deposits required to apply for an apartment in New York City, but have you ever wondered the reason behind it all? Well, it’s because housing laws tend to protect the tenant from a whole list of bad, and it may take up to two (very costly) years for a landlord to evict a tenant. So, the landlords are left with no choice, but to thoroughly screen and approve who they believe will be the best tenants – the ones who pay rent on time and don’t have a record of arson, for example. The applicant approval process is tough, but for good reason.
  • Competition. Remember the 8.5 million that can say “I live in New York City?” Those 8.5 million are your competition. No matter the season, peak or non-peak, that beautiful, quaint and quintessentially “New York” apartment you pictured for yourself — in the West Village, with the stoop, and the brick walls, and the fireplace, and the tree-lined cobblestone streets — will also be the dream of a dozen other first time renters who are competing against you during the application process.


But, here are the good news:

I spoke with Platinum Properties VP of Residential Real Estate, Teresa Stephenson, and she surprised me with a silver lining in the intimidating cloud that is NYC Real Estate. She said, “Rents have been decreasing in the last few years, so landlords have been more aggressive when it comes to getting tenants in [source: Miller Samuel Inc}.” And, how do those landlords get tenants in?  Incentives and Concessions.

Meet me halfway?

That’s exactly how incentives and concessions work. The landlord and tenant reach an agreement with which both parties are content. Say you’re looking for a lease starting in June, but they offer you two free months if you sign for April – consider the net effective rent and see how well it works out for you! Incentives can come in all shapes and sizes, they can be as big as two months of free rent, or as minimal as a $100 American Express gift card. But, this all depends on who holds the cards. Timing is essential and can affect how lucky you can get.

Hello April.

A little known fact, in the NYC apartment rental world, is that April is the last and best month to find an apartment. It’s the month right before peak season begins, so some landlords are still in WRM (Winter Rental Mode) and continue to offer incentives and concessions for some apartments, like in some of our neighboring buildings in FiDi.

Don’t forget to ask your Real Estate agent about the rentals that offer these perks, and exactly what net effective rent can do for you in the long run.

More information.

If you’d like more information about buying, selling or renting real estate in Manhattan, please click here or call 646-681-5272 to speak with an agent from Platinum Properties.


[image source: Slate.com]