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Where to find some great deals on NYC rental apartments

Depending on where you look, you can still find generous concessions across the city.

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New York City landlords continue to offer generous concessions in an effort to fill the many vacant apartments they have on their hands. That means if you are moving in the city this winter, you are likely to get a deal. 

Prior to the pandemic, an owner might cover the broker fee and maybe give you a month of free rent. Now, as the pandemic grinds on, landlords are piling on the freebies. About half of all leases have the broker fee covered or waived, plus you can find up to four months of free rent, reduced security deposits, move-in credits, gift cards—and free wifi.

Bill Kowalczuk, a broker at Warburg Realty, says, “some buildings have a lot more empty apartments than they’re representing,” he says. That's because landlords don't always list their available apartments all at once in an effort to make their building look more in demand and it means renters still have negotiating power. “If they’re offering three months free, ask for four,” he says.

Landlords are more inclined to offer concessions and freebies than lower the rent because it is more cost effective for them. For example, one landlord spent $4,000 to build-out closets for a new renter, Kowalczuk says. So don't hesitate to ask (not demand) an additional free month or freebie that makes sense—like replacing worn-out appliances.

But bear in mind that free months go away when your lease ends; when you renew your lease, you won’t get additional free months. And, your rent could jump by hundreds of dollars if the market returns to normal. If you're not planning on moving out when your lease is up, you should figure out if you can afford the gross rent—and a potential rent increase on top of that. 

Gary Malin, COO at Corcoran, says as the city slowly returns to normal, rental activity is heating up. Case in point: New leases in Manhattan jumped 58 percent in January.

“New York City is a resilient place,” he says. When more New Yorkers become vaccinated and the pandemic is under control, landlords are expected to offer fewer concessions.

Keep reading for where you're likely to find deals, along with a few buildings in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan that are currently offering major concessions. Note that some buildings don’t advertise all of their deals, but you might find out more when you view an apartment—so be sure to ask about getting a concession.

Where you can find deals right now 

Landlords who have 200 or more apartments are in a better position to offer freebies than smaller landlords, Kowalczuk says. And, if you’re looking to move to a luxury new development, you’ll find even more extreme deals. Smaller landlords might drop the rent, but they cannot afford many free months, especially if they’re counting on your rent to pay their mortgage. 

At MiMa in Hell's Kitchen, you can get up to three months of free rent and they'll cover the broker fee for new leases. At StuyTown/Peter Cooper Village in the East Village, you can get one year of free wifi and cable, a 10 percent discount on rental furniture from The Everset, and utilities are included. Apply by February 28th in order to qualify for this deal. 

At Plaza East, in Murray Hill, there are no-fee apartments with up to two months free, a reduced $1,000 security deposit for well-qualified applicants—plus amortized rent and short leases are available. 

If you're looking to move to the other boroughs, check out Long Island City, which has many new, large developments with a lot of empty apartments. AThe Greenpoint in Brooklyn, new residents can get one month free of rent, no broker fee, and gift cards. The building is also offering up to $2,500 towards moving costs, depending on the size of the apartment and other conditions.

At The Union in Williamsburg, you can get up to three months free rent if you sign a one-year lease and up to five months free if you sign a two-year lease. Some of the units, like apartment #5F, a studio, and #3J, a one bedroom, come with a $500 gift card if you apply within 24 hours of viewing the apartment.

In Queens, Arc in Long Island City is currently offering up to three months of free rent and up to $1,000 moving credit for new leases. And at Parker Towers in Forest Hills, you can get up to one and a half months of free rent if you apply by February 28th plus free wifi and cable for a year, a reduced security deposit for qualified renters, flexible lease terms from two to 24 months, and discounts on furniture rentals from The Everset.