Many thanks to everyone who attended BrickUnderground's first Meetup yesterday morning. Renters arrived with questions on everything from how to price a buyout of a rent-stabilized lease, to whether a rent reduction is in order if a landlord takes over your terrace all summer for construction, to how to get your landlord to remediate secondhand smoke.
While our first event was mostly a meet-and-greet affair (big tip of the hat to Insurent for supplying the coffee and 'Wichcraft for the venue), each of our guest experts came prepared to share a tip on renting in NYC.
Here's the recap for those of you who couldn't join us:
- Co-ops are the last bastion of good rental deals: BrickUnderground's 'Rent Coach' and Manhattan real estate broker Mike Akerly suggested that budget- and amenity-conscious renters focus on co-op and condo rentals rather than traditional rental buildings: "You need to have time to go through the board, but there can be many benefits. Condo buildings are generally superior to rental buildings in terms of finishes, amenities, and service. You are also likely to have direct contact with your landlord who will likely be more responsive than a large management company. Co-ops are the last bastion of good rental deals--because of the often burdensome application process, co-op owners often have to charge lower rent."
- Talk to everyone, question everything: "Ask every possible question to the broker/landlord--what's the fee structure, security deposit, what utilities are included, income requirements, do they accept guarantors outside the tri-state area, among others--and if you can, ask other tenants in the building, even if it means waiting in the lobby to ask a stranger about their experience renting in the building," recommended StreetEasy.com's Jared Kleinstein.
- Print out your own credit report and bring it with you: NY1 News real estate reporter Jill Urban explained that a robust apartment search can actually lower your credit rating, as your credit rating is negatively impacted each time it's checked. Printing out your own report and presenting it also gives you an opportunity to address any deficiencies in person.
- Don't settle: Be prepared to make compromises, but don't settle for something you will be truly unhappy living in, said Caren Maio, BrickUnderground's 'Serial Renter' columnist and the co-founder of rental search organizing tool Nestio.com. (Check out her bucket list column for more on this one.)
- A second-choice neighborhood can grow on you Neighborhood expert Diana Sonis of Nabewise.com explained how she recently began her search in the pricey West Village and wound up in Hell's Kitchen (in a gorgeous one-bedroom with drop-dead views). "Keep an open heart and open mind; a neighborhood might surprise and charm you in ways you've never thought possible," she said. "Choosing a neighborhood to live in is similar to dating in New York....In my personal experience, I wanted to live in the West Village ---the hot neighborhood everyone wants--but fell in love with the edgier Hell's Kitchen." It's been six months and her feelings haven't changed, she reports.
- You don't need a lawyer to take your landlord to court Real estate lawyer Steven Wagner, a goldmine of information on all things landlord-tenant, reminded renters of the "HP Proceeding," an easy do-it-yourself lawsuit that is highly effective at prodding landlords to correct violations and make repairs. For more info on the HP Proceeding, read Wagner's description in 6 ways to get your landlord to fix stuff in your apartment.
Thanks again to all who came out to make our first Meetup so rewarding. Stay tuned for info about the next one (in August or September, TBD) or better yet, join our Meetup group to receive automatic email notifications.