Sales Market

The rent is too damn high. But why?

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By Teri Karush Rogers  |
October 17, 2011 - 7:49AM

NYC rents are skyrocketing despite a shaky economy, reported the NY Times this weekend, and the situation for renters is only going to get worse, in part because stricter lending standards mean fewer renters can opt out and buy an apartment instead.

(In other words, NYC will remain Roommate City until further notice.)

Not surprisingly, the dire Times article poured kerosene on renters already smoldering about the disconnect between rents and reality. There's a lot of finger-pointing in the nearly 200 comments elicited so far, but not all point in the same direction as the Times.  Perp walk stars include:

(a) The invention of rent stabilization

(b) The phasing out of rent stabilization

(c) Greedy landlords

(d) Greedy real estate brokers 

(e) Wealthy parents subsidizing grown children

(f)  Property taxes

(g) Mayor Bloomberg

(g) Naive or possibly delusional renters.

Here's a representative sampling from the comments, which included many from horrified/smug ex-NYers:

  • Anyone that lives in Manhattan that doesn't make upwards of 90k a year is either lying to themselves, pretending to be something they're not, or on welfare.
  • Manhattan, and Washington DC for that matter, are becoming completely un-affordable for 99% of the population. And that includes me -- with graduate degrees, licenses in architecture and urban planning, 25 years experience, a full time job, and jobs on the side. I can no longer afford to live in the cities I design. I am the 99%.
  • Landlords have been working assiduously to destroy rent stabilization in Manhattan for decades and all in all they've pretty much succeeded in ensuring that no one making less than 200K a year can even think of living there. So, don't move to Manhattan, or anywhere else within striking distance, if you don't have big bucks. Those days are over.
  • Wow. I'm retired in a small historic town up in the Sierra Madres of western Mexico. We rent a beautiful spacious new 3 bedroom, 3 bath house for $250/month. We have front and back balconies overlooking the mountains and at our altitude we have no need for heat or air conditioning. How can you folks enjoy life after paying such rents?
  • These rent increases are an outrage. Why is it even legal to raise rents more than a reasonable 10%?
  • Nothing new! As members of my own generation discovered many decades ago, New York is a great place to sharpen your competitive skills in your 20s. Then you market those NY skills elsewhere for the same or much more and upgrade from an overpriced hovel to a single family house in a pleasant neighborhood for much less. Le plus ça change, etc.
  • An apt is a place to live and raise your family, it is not a vacation spa. Builders added these things to the buildings in the last few years as a way of getting higher rents.
  • Part of the problem is that Manhattan has become the "only city" in far too many people's imaginations. There are so many graceful, livable and affordable urban centers ready and waiting for an influx of talent, energy, and population. We need to stop buying the NYC bill of goods.
  • I'm a Chicago landlord, but Brooklyn born and bred. My rents are also rising, but more reasonably---tenants can get a nice 2 bedroom in a rehabbed brick 6 unit building (central air, dishwasher, etc) in Bucktown--Wicker Park--Ukrainian Village---way cooler neighborhoods than anything New York currently has---for $1200!! So you artists, musicians, etc---come on down! The exodus from New York is already happening--over half my new tenants just moved here from Manhattan. Only East Coasters think New York is the place to be anymore!
  • I seriously doubt the veracity claiming there is a 1% vacancy rate in Manhattan. No property owner is going to admit that their building has lots of empty units, as it would damage the property's image. Since everyone in the world has moved to Brooklyn and Queens in the last decade, and all of the new luxury buildings are completely dark most of the time, my guess is the rate is actually around 20%.
  • Owning several apartment buildings in Manhattan I can see why - Blame the greedy landlord is the very first comment made by renters. However, in the last several years, my real estate taxes increased nearly 70%; water bill 40%; heating oil 100%, insurance 60%. Without rent increases I would be losing a lot of money in operating the buildings. The blame needs to be put squarely on the City of New York, and the insurance and heating oil industries.


Related posts:

Has NYC become Roommate City?

15 lessons for first-time renters

16 Things I Have Learned Since Moving to Manhattan

New Yorkers really hate it when parents buy apartments for their kids

15 ways to tell a real New Yorker from a poser

12 insider tips for renting

Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral

Teri Karush Rogers

Founder & Publisher

Founder and publisher Teri Karush Rogers launched Brick Underground in 2009. As a freelance journalist, she had previously covered New York City real estate for The New York Times. Teri has been featured as an expert on New York City residential real estate by The New York Times, New York Daily News, amNew York, NBC Nightly News, The Real Deal, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and NY1 News, among others. Teri earned a BA in journalism and a law degree from New York University.

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