Real Estate

Tenants scramble for shelter as pandemic rent deals evaporate

Once once more, the rent is just too rattling excessive.

City residents who snagged their dream properties through the pandemic — a time when New York’s notoriously excessive rents plummeted to file lows as many locals fled city, and landlords provided record-high reductions to fill their buildings — have begun realizing that if one thing appears too good to be true, it most likely is.

They now face jacked-up month-to-month charges — some practically twice the worth — when renewing their leases. With employees returning to the office and faculties reopening for class, landlords have began benefiting from a rebounding housing market to recoup their yearlong losses. And now, many of those tenants should kiss their properties goodbye in the hunt for one thing extra inexpensive.

“It’s like having to start over again,” mentioned 59-year-old promoting skilled Mark Salzwedel, who left Bedford-Stuyvesant final October for an alcove studio condominium in a Financial District high-rise — a $2,200-per-month rental that he negotiated all the way down to $1,900, $350 greater than what he paid in Brooklyn. Over the previous year, he’s loved a much bigger kitchen with a dishwasher and extra closet house.

But final month, he discovered the month-to-month rent will rise by a staggering 79 p.c, to $3,400 — and he’s on the hunt to signal a brand new lease earlier than his present one expires on Dec. 31. “Do I have to go back to washing my own dishes and buying tons of modular components to make up for the lack of storage space? I don’t want to move, but I have to move.”

Mark Salzwedel moved to a Financial District high-rise the place he had extra perks than his final condominium in Brooklyn — however now he’s on the home hunt and determining which facilities he should sacrifice for affordability.
Helayne Seidman

Salzwedel anticipated the rent to rise for 2022, and figured he might pay one thing as much as 30 p.c greater per thirty days, however the information hit laborious. He tried to barter it down by declaring ongoing constructing renovations and out-of-service elevators. He mentioned one of the best his landlord provided was $3,300 — nonetheless practically 74 p.c extra per thirty days. 

“They weren’t willing to budge at all,” he mentioned.

Salzwedel even checked the legality of the rise. For market-rate models, New York landlords can elevate the rent by nonetheless a lot they need. He wrote to elected officers, who didn’t reply. He’s since begun searching open homes and determining what facilities he should sacrifice for affordability.

“Do I really want to walk up an extra flight of stairs in order to have a dishwasher?” he mentioned. “Do I want to forgo kitchen counters in order to have central air and heat?”

Salzwedel is only one native feeling the chilly slap of actuality. Other New Yorkers have taken to social media to share information of their very own rent hikes.

“My rent raising from [$2,000] a month to [$3,450] just kicked me hard in the nuts,” a Twitter consumer named Ryan Smith, who didn’t reply to a request for remark, shared along with his 63,000 followers in September. “Thanks NYC.”

A TikTok consumer named Stacy who wrote that she’s a nurse anesthetist, and who additionally didn’t return a message looking for remark, posted a video in September displaying her sitting absolutely clothed below the operating water of a bathe after her landlord elevated the rent by $2,000 per thirty days. “I’m in a love-hate relationship with NYC,” she mentioned within the replies.

It’s a part of a market in recovery. As housing demand rises, provide wanes — which means those that are priced out of their coveted COVID caves will face greater costs for fewer accessible models. 

In the third quarter of 2021, median Manhattan rents hit $3,050 — up from $2,960 in the identical interval final year, in keeping with StreetEasy. All the whereas, 22.4 p.c of Manhattan rental models obtained a concession, such as months free on an extended lease, down from a peak of 42.8 p.c within the first quarter of 2021. (These perks sometimes apply to new leases and never renewals.)

In September alone, in keeping with Corcoran Group tallies, Manhattan had a complete of 5,608 lively rental listings, down 25 p.c from the month prior and a mighty 68 p.c down from September 2020. Brooklyn’s 3,187 lively September listings marked a 22 p.c slip from August and a 62 p.c fall from September 2020.

“What we are starting to see now is people moving out to their second- and sometimes third-choice neighborhoods. If you had dreams of living in the West Village or Brooklyn Heights, good luck — it is just so, so tight,” mentioned Pamela Liebman, president and CEO of the Corcoran Group. “During the pandemic, people were able to cherry-pick the locations they wanted and now it’s back to, ‘OK, I don’t care where I am — just make sure I’m in Manhattan and have a doorman.’”

Courtney Martin and Carson Crow moved from Harlem to the Upper West Side, where their two-bedroom has bigger bedrooms and more storage space.
Courtney Martin and Carson Crow moved from Harlem to the Upper West Side, the place their two bedrooms are larger they usually have extra space for storing.
Stefano Giovannini

But Courtney Martin and her roommate Carson Crow, each 25, goal to remain on the Upper West Side, the place they moved final November from Harlem. For $2,100 per thirty days complete — roughly $600 extra per thirty days than their Harlem digs — they leased a two-bedroom with larger rooms and extra space for storing. The transfer was value it, mentioned Martin, as a result of the 2 wished to stay nearer to Central Park to hang around with buddies who stay close by and close to trains to take them to work.

“All pros, very few cons,” mentioned Martin, who works in hospitality and as a personal assistant.

But upon renewal, Martin and Crow — who works in theater administration — noticed a 57 p.c renewal hike, to $3,300 month-to-month.

“They were absolutely not willing to negotiate,” mentioned Martin, including the lease ends Nov. 1. “We knew it was going to go up … We were like, ‘OK, a couple hundred dollars is fine,’ but it went up $1,200 — it’s crazy.”

Martin and Crow aim to stay on the Upper West Side, where they've enjoyed living near Central Park.
Martin and Crow goal to remain on the Upper West Side, the place they’ve loved dwelling close to Central Park.
Stefano Giovannini

Martin’s boyfriend, Bond New York agent Brendan Williamson, 25, who was not concerned within the renewal discussions, mentioned the roommates’ dramatic value improve isn’t frequent — however ongoing rent hikes are to be anticipated.

“[Landlords] lost so much money with not only having to lower their rent, but also the large amount of vacancies in their buildings,” he mentioned.

Still, Martin and Crow could also be in luck. They utilized for a barely smaller, and costlier, $2,400 two-bedroom unit two blocks away.

“We found a unicorn,” she mentioned. “The tricky thing is that everyone is moving so quickly right now, so if you see an apartment, you have to put an application in — there’s not a lot of time to dillydally. It’s just stressful, because it feels like there aren’t as many options.”

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