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Some NYC landlords are now offering three months of free rent to fill apartments

It's a sign of how badly owners are struggling to fill vacant apartments during the pandemic.

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There are so many vacant apartments in New York City now that some landlords are offering three months free rent—a more generous concession than the usual one- or two-months of free rent that you can usually find—and a sign of how badly owners are struggling to fill vacant apartments during the pandemic.

But still, only a fraction of new leases come with three months free rent, according to a new report from Brown Harris Stevens Development Marketing.

The report looked at 301 new development and older rental buildings in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan from June to October and found that 44 percent offered two months free and an owner-paid broker fee, 17 percent offered three months free plus an owner-paid broker’s fee and 11 percent offered two months free. 

The report doesn't track the length of the lease terms but it says there are some requirements in order to get the concessions. Generally, longer concessions are for longer lease terms, such as two months free for a two-year lease, however, the trend is now toward more generous concessions and shorter or more flexible leases—like ones with opt-out clauses. 

Other concessions include gift cards, reduced security deposits, and gym memberships.

Most of the buildings in the report are in Manhattan (250), with 37 in Brooklyn, and 14 in Queens. The majority of buildings range in size from 101 to 500 apartments. 

The Elliman Report’s September rental market report shows a similar trend: The percentage of leases with concessions increased 67 percent from September 2019, and the average size of the concession increased from 1.2 months to 2 months. 

A similar trend shows in the outer boroughs. Brooklyn saw an increase in leases with concessions of 14 percent and in Queens, leases with concessions were up 53 percent from September 2019.