The 20 deadly sins NYC rental agents should never commit (but do)

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  1. Harlem is NOT the Upper West Side. You  might be able to get away with that s--t up to West 112th St., but really “Columbia Area” is a better way to describe it if you are hesitant about saying Harlem. However, you really shouldn’t be hesitant about saying Harlem. 
  2. Likewise, East Harlem is NOT the Upper East Side. Listing an apartment on East 117th Street as a great UES deal is not going to get it rented any quicker. 
  4. If an apartment has a closet that houses the hot water heater and nothing else but pipes and tank can fit in it, it is NOT a closet. Do not advertise it as such. Do not be shady and take pictures of the great row of closet doors when you know it is a completely unusable space to a tenant. 
  5. Do not use text speak. Spell out “YOU” not “U” otherwise Imma no gonna call U. In fact, please check your spelling. And if you are in the real estate biz and think “Gramercy” is spelled “Gramarcy,” quit today.
  6. Do not say the building has laundry facilities when what you really mean is there is a laundromat a block away. 
  7. If you have a listing for more than a few days and have not taken pictures of it, I’m skipping right by it. If it is your exclusive rental, you are an idiot for not having pictures taken and are doing a disservice to your landlord. As an apartment hunter, I need to see it.
  8. That said, sucky pictures suck. If you can’t hold a camera without shaking, hire someone who can. I understand if a unit is tenant-occupied it is hard, but taking pictures of underwear on the floor, unmade beds or units taken at night just makes me hate you and your rental. (I do, however, think it is really cute to have the tenant’s pet in the picture. Those pictures make me smile. And apparently I'm not the only one.)
  9. If a unit has been rented, please take it off your firm’s site or add “RENTED” to the listing. I know this can be tricky and time-consuming but imagine how my heart leaps when I see the perfect listing only to realize it was posted 346 days ago. Heartbreak from I can take; heartbreak from StreetEasy I cannot. 
  10. If it is a walk-up—-particularly a sixth floor one—-say it prominently in your ad. In fact, the more descriptive and truthful you can be about EVERYTHING, the better. It will save you time from taking calls and answering questions and will save the hunter time trying to track you down to find out if there is laundry in the building or if the landlord allows big dogs. If you are not sure if it matters, assume it does. 
  11. If you are a broker, NEVER EVER post in the By Owner Apartments Only (no broker) area of Craigslist. Likewise if there is a fee of any kind, do not post in the No Fee area of Craigslist. 
  12. Learn what a convertible is. Use the term sparingly. 
  13. Do not list your studio—even if it also has a small alcove—as a one bedroom. It is still a studio and you are wasting my time even reading through it.
  14. DO NOT list a junior four as a two bedroom. If a room can’t fit a bed, it is not a bedroom. If a room doesn’t have a window, technically it is not a bedroom. 
  15. DO NOT list a four-room railroad as a two-bedroom unless you specify one of the bedrooms must be walked through to get to the other. People looking for shares will want to know this and those who want privacy will not want to waste your time and theirs calling about this or arranging to see it. 
  16. If you are suggesting the living room can be used as a bedroom, be clear about that. This is NOT to be advertised as a two-bedroom. A two-bedroom is a unit with two bedrooms AND a living area. 
  17. If you post an ad on Craigslist, leave your contact information. So many ads I’m coming across neglect to put an email address or phone number too. Do not rely on the generic CL email address. A consumer should be able to look up the agent, read his bio, learn about his firm, etc. Relying on a generic email address is risky if you are going to meet a stranger on a corner.
  18. If there is something odd about the apartment, like, say, a couch cannot fit through the doorway, be sure to write this on your apartment description. Someone may not think to ask and on their moving day may be stuck with moving men who can’t get the couch in. This is time-consuming and expensive. It is guaranteed to result in tears and/or panic. 
  19. Never show up to a showing on a Sunday morning when you are stoned (I know, this seems obvious, right?). A broker waked and baked and then tried to show me an apartment totally losing his train of thought several times, reeking of weed. 
  20. Do not, under any circumstances, list any apartment as SEXXXY. If I wanted to live in a Swingers club I’d go to Checkmate on East 56th Street; it would be a whole lot cheaper than your 15% fee.

Kelly Kreth, a public relations professional and freelance writer, recently looked at 30 apartments before signing a lease on a (truly) convertible two-bedroom in Hell's Kitchen. As far as she knows, none of her real estate industry clients engage in the practices described above. Read more of Kelly's apartment hunting adventures here.


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