Empty Apartments Make Most Noise: NYC Landlords Fret As Apartment Vacancy Hits New High

Empty Apartments Make Most Noise: NYC Landlords Fret As Apartment Vacancy Hits New High

By Archana Aithal Rose August 30, 2016

Eva Suarez, an accounting exec on Wall Street, was gobsmacked when her estate broker offered her a move-in gift of $1000 in cash, provided she signed the apartment lease. Suarez suspected a scam. The fact that someone was paying a tenant to rent an apartment just didn’t make sense to her. Suarez is probably one of many New Yorkers, who are benefiting from the rising number of apartment vacancies in the city.

Related: New York Rents Keep Rising: If You Own That Brownstone, You May Be Rich

Summer may be considered the peak renting season in New York, when deals are not just hard, but impossible to come by. But according to a recent report released by CitiHabitats, July rents this year saw a drop, raising the apartment vacancy rates to 1.92 percent, the highest since 2002. In fact, in 2009, even at the height of great recession, the vacancy rate had only reached 1.67 percent. And when vacancy rates rise, so do the landlords’ discounts and list of freebies.

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An issue that started as a slow rumble in 2011 has now gone full throttle. Bloomberg reported only last year, that tenants had reached their upper limits of what they were able to pay after four continuous years of rent growth. And what’s past is prologue. The fall-out of the city’s rapidly climbing rent is the equally growing number of vacancies.

Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats indicated that, “The fact that we are trending towards a two percent vacancy rate despite the busy summer season shows we are in a very price sensitive market.” He also reckons that an easy solution to this problem would be, landlords adjusting their pricing to reflect changing conditions. In a desperate effort to fill empty apartments, landlords lure tenants with a free month’s rent and/or reduced broker fee. However, even the rent concessions and adjustments have failed to substantially shift the needle, Malin told Rew Online. It doesn’t help either that renters have been moving to Jersey City in larger numbers than ever before leaving a trail of empty nests behind.

While affordability still remains a perennial issue for most New Yorkers, rents keep shooting up. In July 2016, Soho/Tribeca was still the costliest neighborhood for renters with a median rent of $6,310, Gramercy/Flatiron second most expensive at $4,595 and rents were lowest in Washington at $2,200. With landlords refusing to slash yearly rents, they’ll only be adding on the incentives. So, the next time you see an ad for an apartment that gives out $500 in cash, don’t look the gift horse in the mouth.

Archana Aithal Rose

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Archana Aithal Rose

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Archana Aithal Rose

Archana Aithal Rose’s articles have appeared in The Times of India, CNNGo, Condé Nast Traveler and Vogue, covering such broad range of topics as fashion, art, travel, culture, celebrities, architecture and technology. In addition to writing, Archana's also known for her mad photography and cooking skills.

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