What would you do if your rent shot up? Would you stick around and take the hit or would you look for a new place?
We interviewed NYC renters that are experiencing or have experienced rent increases and asked them how they plan to proceed.
Monthly Rent: $4500
Rent Hike: +$400/month
When Zoe received a notice that her rent would jump almost 10%, she didn’t know what to do. After all, looking around for a new apartment means time and money searching, applying, and (hopefully) moving. This leaves very little choice in the hands of renters.
“It’s essentially going up the price of a broker fee, so if we were to get a new apartment we would end up paying the same amount. It would ultimately probably cost us more money.”
Natural light cascades over the fire escape and flows through each of the bedrooms in her East Village walk-up. The living room is neatly furnished with a highly sought after laundry machine spinning away in the alcove.
“I’m pretty sure it’s increasing because they know that it is a nice apartment for how much they are charging and they know that they can get more money for it. My apartment is a lot nicer than a lot of other people’s who are paying the same amount.”
“I am staying in my apartment because I love it. It’s home.”
Apartment: 3-Bedroom Duplex
Monthly Rent: $4695
Rent Hike: +$500/month
The first round of emails that Jeff and his roommates received stated that management “felt uneasy” about having them as tenants. These messages were in response to a series of parties on the roof of the apartment building that attracted multiple complaints from neighboring renters.
“The roof is tiled and private; there was a fridge already up there when we moved in; we could see the freedom tower going up and we could see all the other rooftops pretty much; best party spot.”
The second round of emails informed the three students that their rent would be increasing by $500 per month.
“We’re skeptical. We think the rent didn’t actually go up and they were just trying to kick us out.”
Jeff and his roommates finally left the 13th St. duplex for a studio triplex on the Lower East Side.
“It worked out for us. We’re now paying $2250.”
The top level of Jeff’s new apartment has a private balcony and each roommate has his or her own space. However, the new place isn’t perfect.
“Ours is the only apartment in the building that is not renovated and the floor is at an extreme slant. One night I accidentally spilled balsamic vinegar and because of the noticeable slant, it all immediately slid under the couch. We need to put wedges under furniture and the stove is not safe because it’s on a slant. It was constructed in 1880 so we assume it’s near ready for the wrecking ball.”
Monthly Rent: $3350
Rent Hike: ???
“When you are considering moving to Stuytown, they tell you that there’s no chance of a mid-lease rent hike. Then you find out later that the possibility is actually written into the lease.”
Taylor and his roommates were shocked upon reading a Wall Street Journal article that detailed the infamous clause and the three decided to investigate for themselves. Posing as prospective renters, they marched into the Stuytown leasing office, brimming with enthusiasm. The three inquired about the differences between the 1-year and 2-year leases, attempting to get some sort of written proof of protection under their current lease.
“We’ve been in Stuytown for almost a year now. We were told before signing the lease that the benefit of a 2-year versus a 1-year would be that we could be guaranteed the current rate for both years.”
The Stuytown receptionist was completely confident that a protection from rent hikes was actually written into the lease, but the roommates were not convinced. They proceeded to call every Stuyvesant Town office available, but were stonewalled by voicemails at every turn.
Finally, they reached out to their original leasing agent and were told that there was, in fact, no legal protection against rent hikes. Stuyvesant Town reserves the right to raise rents, they simply need to give advance notice. The three were encouraged to contact their lawyers if they had any more questions.
“What’s bad is that it’s not really something that you get in writing. It’s really just relying on the word of management. I guess we could sue them maybe if they try to pull something funny.”
Taylor’s friends reside mainly in Brooklyn where they enjoy rents that are nearly half of what he and his roommates are currently paying. When asked if he planned on moving, Taylor said no and that he enjoyed living in Stuytown, but that the neighborhood is not without its quirks.
“It’s kind of far from school though and our building really hasn’t been repaired from Sandy, which was months ago. There was even a class action suit going around because management still hasn’t repaired the amenities we pay for like Laundry and storage. Meanwhile, we had guards at a lot of buildings, which has to be pretty expensive to keep up, so I’d imagine we’re not really getting the full benefits of the creepy security cameras that Stuytown is famous for.”