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NYC Landlords are Offering Perks to Tenants

New York City is one of the toughest rental markets anywhere, but with the coming busy season of new graduates looking for apartments and people who want to move in warm weather and before school starts, NYC landlords are offering perks to tenants.

A recent article in the New York Times reported that the increased number of new apartments flooding the market has resulted in some stiff competition among landlords for desirable tenants. This hasn’t resulted in a pressure on the market to lower the rent rate, but some perks do mean that tenants have less of an outlay than they used to.

Some incentives include free Netflix, a flat screen TV, or a reduced security deposit.  Typically when tenants find apartments through a real estate company, the fee for the broker is an upfront expense as well, which landlords have been increasingly willing to pay.

These perks are called rent concessions, and in the past three years of a slow market in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens pressured by new construction and conversions of commercial buildings to lofts, the number of new rental listings offering concessions has increased, more than doubling in April for Manhattan and Brooklyn from the same time last year, according to a Douglass Elliman market report. In Queens, the number has tripled.

Brokers fees can be as much as 15% of the total rent, and for the past two years, landlords have been paying these fees instead of expecting them to be paid by the tenant. Some have offered additional perks, such as one or two months free rent, free Netflix, free gym memberships, and gift cards.

It is still difficult, and expensive, to rent an apartment in New York City. According to the Douglas Elliman report, the median rent in Manhattan as of April is $3,417.  In Brooklyn it is $2800 a month, and in Queens it is $3,088 a month.  Tenants are usually screened carefully, and income is verified.  In the case of tenants who have worked at high paying positions in financial firms for a year or two, a co-signer may be required. And tenants who hunt for apartments may check out many listings and make many applications before they are accepted.  Time is often of the essence – while the rental market has slowed, it is still very competitive.

Still, if you are looking for a rental in New York City, now is a good time to find the apartment you want in the location that works for you. Make sure that your credit is good, that you have the necessary documentation, and be prepared to do some legwork. Don’t be afraid to ask for concessions, or to take advantage of them if they are offered.  You will find that you come out ahead.

By Janet Hill

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