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Report: NYC landlords get stingier with new lease freebies

The percentage of new leases that come with a free month or no fee is falling.

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Landlords continue to retain the upper hand in NYC’s rental market thanks to a slowing sales market. Buyers are putting off purchases for the time being and crowding into the rental market, and as a result, putting upward pressure on prices in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The median rent in Manhattan was $3,479 in April, up 3.7 percent from a year ago, and $2,850 in Brooklyn, up 0.3 percent, according to Douglas Elliman’s April 2019 rental market report for Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. 

“We’ve been seeing a lot of consistency in rental market trends so far this year, and this month was no exception,” says Jonathan Miller, president of appraisal firm Miller Samuel and author of the report. “As long as the sales market in New York City remains soft, rents will continue to rise with the increased leasing demand.”

The vacancy rate in Manhattan increased slightly year over year for the first time in 11 months, to 2.03 percent from 1.99 percent, a very tiny uptick. The market remains very tight, enabling landlords to be more aggressive at lease renewal time.

The percentage of new leases with rent concessions dropped sharply year-over-year in all three boroughs in April, as landlords rein in incentives like a free month or two or picking up the broker fee.

The number of new rentals offering concessions in Brooklyn fell to 38.1 percent in April from 51 percent, Queens had the biggest drop: to 45.3 percent from 65.1 percent. Manhattan saw a smallest dip, to 36.9 percent from 44.3 percent.

New leasing activity in Manhattan slipped 1.6 percent year over year to 4,831. One-bedroom apartments saw the most new leasing activity, and the most new leases were signed Downtown, the report shows.

New leases in Brooklyn grew 7.2 percent year over year for the fourth time in five months, to 1,327, and rose 4.8 percent to 285 in Queens. New leasing activity in the latter was the greatest for studios and one bedrooms, and fell for two-bedroom rentals.

Other reports

In Citi Habitats’ April rental market report, Gary Malin, president, says, “Landlords were feeling confident." He says instability in the sales market and a seasonal increase are keeping the vacancy rate low.

MNS also released its April 2019 Rental Market Reports for Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. It found the largest monthly rent increase was for doorman one-bedroom apartments in Soho, which are up 52 percent, from $4,548 to $6,911.