• Ask an Expert

    Ask an Expert: Is it normal to treat luxury condo renters like third-class citizens?

    Q. I rent an apartment in three-year-old condo building that is about 20% renters. It's a beautiful building, but the attitude of the owners toward the renters is not.  

    Basically, we are treated like third-class citizens.  We can't have dogs, or use the roof deck or the gym. We have to register overnight guests with the doorman, we can't use the bike room and we have to pay twice as much to rent out the amenity area intended for parties. The staff doesn't extend themselves for us like they seem to do for owners.

    The next thing you know they're going to make us take the stairs instead of the elevator!

    Is this normal? Is it even legal to discriminate against renters? What can we do?

    A.   Separate and unequal treatment of renters in a condo building is fairly common and probably legal, say ourexperts.

    When it comes to housing discrimination laws, renters are not a legally 'protected class,' explains real estate broker and attorney Mike Akerly of Akerly Real Estate.   So while a condo can't create rules and regulations that discriminate based on race, color, creed, age, national origin, alienage, citizenship status and other protected classes, "there are no laws that prohibit a condominium from creating rules that treat renters and owners differently with regard to the rules and regulations that govern their building," he says.

  • StreetEasy Hot Dozen

    The StreetEasy Hot Dozen: 12 rentals that may or may not be available by the time you read this

    The living room in the two-bedroom apartment at 145 Waverly Place exudes that West Village charm that many crave.

    That Manhattan's uber-charming West Village is at the top of many a New Yorker's list of dream nabes is evidenced by the fact that five West Village apartments are at the top of this week's Hot Dozen--the 12 rental apartments Streeteasy.comvisitors clicked on most often over the past seven days.

    one-bedroom apartment at 15 Jones Street and West 4th Street is listed at $2,500/month with no broker's fee. Not only does the building have its own laundry room, but also boasts an elevator. The address is only a two block walk from Washington Square Park and is within equal distance of two subway stops.

    Nearby, a two-bedroom, one bath apartment at 145 Waverly Place is listed at $3,000/month. Conveniently located, the apartment is spread out enough that it gives space a larger feel; the two bedrooms are on complete opposite ends of the apartment (a plus for roommates). Guarantors are accepted, though unfortunately for pet owners, little furry friends are not.

    A cozy studio at 244 West 10th Street and Hudson Street is listed at $1,575/month and has already been rented. The apartment building has a live-in super, as well as a shared garden that adds much needed tranquility and privacy to the bustling streets of Manhattan.

  • Everything you ever wanted to know about sponsor apartments but were afraid to ask

    This gut-renovated 2-bed, 1-bath Murray Hill co-op is a sponsor apartment, which means no board approval is required to buy the $750,000 apartment.

    If you're new to New York real estate and you've come across the term "sponsor listing" while scanning the ads, you may be wondering what it means. If you already know, you're probably wondering how to find one.

    Here's a guide to the ins and outs of sponsor apartments and what's involved in buying one:

    What is a sponsor unit?

    A sponsor apartment is a unit owned by the original owner or corporation responsible for turning a building from a rental into a co-op.

    Many rental apartment buildings in New York City were converted to co-ops in the 1980s. At the time of conversion, existing tenants (renters) had the option to purchase their unit or continue renting.

    Since then, as those dwellers have moved on, their apartments have often been listed on the market by the building’s original sponsors, who still own the apartments.

  • StreetEasy Open House Scorecard

    The Open House Scorecard: Shacking up in Park Slope

    This $595k two-bedroom co-op in Park Slope is found in a six-unit walk-up and features a wood burning fireplace, as well as other prewar details. 

    If Park Slope is high on your list of desirable neighborhoods, you’re apparently not alone. The family-friendly nabe pops up a lot in this week’s Open House Scorecard -- the 10 apartments users scouring StreetEasy this weekend saved to their open-house planners more often than any others. 

    Take this $595k two-bedroom, 1-bath co-op on Fifth Avenue and Second Street the market for $595k. Located on the second floor of a six-unit walk-up, it has a wood-burning fireplace, 10’ ceilings, exposed brick in the bedrooms and free laundry in the building. Maintenance is fairly low at $647, and the building is one block from JJ Byrne Park and the Sunday Farmer’s Market. But your pets will have to pass muster in order to move in. 

    In a brownstone on Sixth Street -- between Sixth and Fifth Avenues -- is a $1.495m three-bedroom, 2 bath multi-family townhouse. The home is currently configured as an owner’s lower duplex and a floor-through rental. Since it will be delivered vacant, it can  also be converted into a single family home. Other perks are a semi-finished basement and a backyard. Plus, the mechanicals and windows were recently updated and property taxes on the entire brownstone are just $339/month.

  • Diary of a First-Time Buyer

    Open house time (a.k.a. the sound of my heart breaking)

    Week No. 2 of my search:  Wanting to avoid another blind side, I decided to contact an agent whom I’d interviewed for a real estate story some time ago. He had offered his services should I ever be in the buyer’s market. I sent Sidney an email and received a prompt response. His suggestion: send links of listings I liked and based on that, he’d generate an open house schedule for me.

    It wasn’t hard to find aspirational but practical apartments. I sent several links sourced from Craigslist in Harlem and the Heights, and the next day I had his listings. I looked them up online before deciding on four open houses for Sunday. 

    Chris, a friend miraculously willing to view every apartment with me, met me at the first address -- a one-bedroom, one-bath prewar for about $300K on Riverside Drive near 157th Street, incidentally catercorner from the previous week’s disastrous viewing.

    Upon our arrival we were confronted with a sign-in sheet and a dilemma: Whom do I sign in as my broker? I didn’t have a formal relationship with Sidney yet, and by signing in with him, am I legally committed? To what, exactly? What, if any, kind of financial obligation would I have?  Neither of us knew, so I left that portion blank and we entered.

  • Win free rent for a year, NYC real estate taxes are a golden goose (but not for you), and more

  • No-Fee Apartment of the Week

    No-Fee Apartment of the Week: $3,950 one-bedroom in Peter Cooper Village

    Rooms in this  $3,950 one-bedroom at Peter Cooper Village are generously sized.

    This $3,950 one-bedroom, one-bath is located at 390 First Avenue, near 23rd Street, in the town-within-in-a-city known as Peter Cooper Village.

    Pros: Apartments in PCV are large -- a one-bedroom is likely to be the size of a two-bedroom (bedrooms can accomodate king-size beds and even office spaces). The grounds feature an 80-acre private  park, with a seasonal greenmarket, music, basketball, volleyball, tennis and bocce courts. There are 15 playgrounds on the premises too.

    Cons: Some people might not like the institutional feel of all the brick buildings that make up this huge complex, and some longtime residents have complained in recent years about the complex attracting an abundance of young, lively renters drawn to the sharable spaces and the proximity to the East Village.

  • Transitions

    Lower East Side to Astoria: Nightlife for the 30-something set at last

    I moved to the Lower East Side in 2004 and lived there until 2010. First I lived on Orchard Street, then I moved to Ludlow, then Stanton, then back to another building on Orchard Street.

    My husband and I were paying $2,200 for our last LES apartment -- a one-bedroom fifth-floor walkup.  Because a lot of other apartments in the building were empty, we actually got them to lower our rent to $2,000.

    I know people said the Lower East Side was gentrified by 2004, and lost its edge in, like, the 70s, but when I moved in in 2004 it was mostly rock n’ roll bars like Barramundi, Motor City and Whiskey Ward. It was definitely filled with arty, music kids. 

    That was when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Strokes and Interpol would hang out down there. It was sceney, but in a different way than it is now. 

    Then it got more fashioney --  they built the Hotel on Rivington and tons of fashion people would stay there. It was kinda cool though since we used to go and visit the band members who also stayed there. I remember the guy from the Cure would stay there and we all thought that was pretty cool.

  • StreetEasy's Most Wanted

    StreetEasy’s Most Wanted: A move-in ready co-op with no board approval necessary (and other renovated co-ops over a million)

    This $1.55m two-bedroom co-op in Lincoln Square is a sponsor unit that doesn’t require board approval. That gas fireplace will be cozy on those chilly fall and winter nights. (Though the curtains are closed, which makes us question the view. And there’s a close-up view of the building next door through the kitchen window).

    If you like the idea of a co-op but could do without the hassle of passing a board interview, put on your reading glasses and take a look at this edition of StreetEasy’s Most Wanted -- the 10 sales listings folks browsing StreetEasy saved more often than any others this week -- because it features one such co-op, as well as a number of other swanky units priced above a million bucks. 

    If you think avoiding a board interview is worth $1.55m, you might be interested in a two-bedroom co-op on West 70th between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. The sponsor unit has been rather awesomely gut renovated. It’s complete with a gas fireplace, W/D and through wall heat and air units,  home office as well as a walk-in closet. The location is also a perk if you like the outdoors — it’s just two buildings off Central Park. It's on the second floor though and for some, the price might be steep for a non-doorman building.

    If you’re not averse to a board interview, there’s also a gut renovated two-bedroom  2 1/2 bath co-op on the market for $1.995m in West Village. Located on West Houston between Bedford and Varick Streets, the top floor loft has a vented Miele W/D and two skylights to let in lots of natural light. But there’s no doorman and West Houston is not exactly a quiet neighborhood street. Maintenance is $2,716.

  • NYC Renovation Q's

    NYC Renovation Questions: A few things to consider before combining those apartments...

    Q. I love my apartment, neighborhood and building, but I’m running out of space. I’m considering buying an adjacent apartment and combining it with mine. What should I know before taking this on?

     A. Combining apartments may seem like an easy solution to your spatial challenges, but a seamless renovation is a tall order.

    First, some basics:

    • Combining side-by-side units is easier, less invasive, and lighter on the checkbook than creating a duplex. Duplexes are more costly and time-consuming due to the construction involved in cutting between floors.
    • Adjacencies (which rooms abut other rooms) are among the most important things to keep in mind when renovating or revising a floor plan. Try to keep bedrooms and baths away from entertaining spaces like living rooms, dining rooms and kitchen. This may not always work out, but it should be the goal when you are planning the new space. 
    • An interior designer should help guide you, and it’s best to have a designer look at both apartments before you sign on any dotted l

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