The Hot New York Rental Market: What Does it Mean for You?

Published on Jul 26, 2011


All the numbers about the increasingly competitive New York rental market might be interesting in the abstract--the lowest vacancy rate in a decade! fewer concessions by landlords! the highest prices in Manhattan in years!--but they can really hit home if you're looking for a Manhattan rental apartment right now, or if your current lease is coming up for renewal in the next few months. Recently The New York Times has offered an in-depth look at some of the immediate consequences for newcomers looking for a NY apartment, as well as current NYC apartment building tenants as their leases come up for renewal.


First, Times reporter Jim Rendon hammers home the obvious: when the New York rental market is tight, landlords can afford to be picky about tenants. Manhattan rental apartments, especially the more appealing ones, are getting snatched up the same day they go on the market, often with two or three prospective tenants eager to sign a lease, so landlords can afford to hold firm on their requirement that a tenant's gross income be anywhere from 40 to 50 times the monthly rent. By that measure, as Rendon points out, if you're looking at a $3,000 rent, you better be making at least $120,000 a year to even be considered. And you have to have the paperwork, and a credit score, to back it all up. Of course, if you're using a broker to find a NY apartment, you can expect to add thousands of dollars on top of that for the broker fee... another great reason to get a no-fee apartment on Urban Edge.

In this sort of rental apartment market, the best advice is to be prepared. As we note in our Urban Edge Apartment Guide for New York City Rentals, you need to have enough money in the bank to sign checks for, at a minimum, your first and last month's rent (and/or security deposit) on the spot. You need to arrive at an open house or an apartment tour with all of your paperwork on you, including pay stubs, tax returns, proof of employment, and photo ID. And if you have a suspect credit history, or if you're moving here for the first time from another country, and have NO credit history in the United States, you need to have a guarantor lined up and ready to be subjected to the same sort of scrutiny.


Another NYC rental apartment scenario to consider: you're comfortable in your current apartment, until your lease is up and your landlord hits you with a dramatic increase. A couple of years ago, Manhattan rental apartment tenants could ask for, and receive, concessions at lease-renewal time, but not in this market. Joyce Cohen's piece in The New York Times offers a profile of Jeni Aron, a young professional suddenly priced out her Midtown Manhattan doorman building, and how she found peace and happiness on the tree-lined streets of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. The point here for Urban Edge blog readers: there are plenty of wonderful NY apartments for rent out there, even in this competitive New York rental market. All you have to do is do your research, be prepared, and when the time comes, act decisively.

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