Tenants Resist Rising Brooklyn Rents

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Brooklyn rental prices rose and the number of new leases signed more than doubled in the past month, according to rental reports from MNS and Douglas Elliman. Jonathan Miller, founder of real estate analytics firm Miller Samuel, told The Real Deal that the increasing number of new leases showed that tenants were dissatisfied with rent hikes from their existing landlords and looking elsewhere for their next apartment.

Not only were 442 new leases signed in January, a 111.5 percent increase from December, but that number represented a 33.5 percent jump from January of last year, according to Elliman. And more tenants negotiated discounts on their rents than last January, with the discount from the original list price rising from 5.9 percent to 6.5 percent. Overall, median Brooklyn rental prices jumped from $2,660 a month in December to $2,830 a month in January, a 6.4 percent increase.

Bushwick, Downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene all saw marked rental price increases between December and January, MNS said. And two-bedroom apartment prices in Crown Heights rose 5.3 percent because of new developments on Bergen Street. Not surprisingly, Dumbo still holds the title for most expensive average rents in every type of unit. Meanwhile, Prospect Lefferts Gardens has the cheapest studios and one-bedrooms, and Bed Stuy has the cheapest average rents for two-bedrooms, MNS’ analysis shows.

Has your landlord raised your rent lately? Or if you’re a landlord, have you raised the rent?

21 Comment

  • My landlord tried to raise my 3 bdrm Bed-Stuy apt $200/mnth in Oct 2013 but I talked her down to $130, which I still think is a lot. I asked others around the neighborhood and they report raises of only $25-$50/year. I also unsuccessfully petitioned for a 2 year lease.
    I live in constant anxiety that the rent will raise to an unaffordable level every year or that she will sell the house. A newly refurbished building on the block, same layout as mine is renting for almost double. Yikes.

  • landlord

    I have raised rent in Park Slope by a small amount. The amount raised reflects the increase in maintenance costs. Although my apartments are rent stabilized, all my tenants pay a preferential rent (all apartments have a legal registered rent very close to the deregulation limit of $2500). The majority of my tenants are really good tenants that have a vested interest in the building and alert me with any issues and some take matters into their own hands. For that reason, I have a strong interest in making sure that they become long term tenants. On average their apartments are $600-$800 below market rate.

    One relatively new tenant has been a pain. Complaining about every little thing (eg: “someone left an empty shopping bag in the hallway…get someone to throw it out in the garbage” “light went out in the bathroom, i need you to replace the light bulb because i can’t reach”). Their lease will expire soon and the new lease will show a $500 per month rent increase

  • While I sympathize that tenants can be a pain, I’m not sure it should be legal to raise someone’s rent to a level they can’t afford just so you can rent to someone who won’t ask you to do maintenance in your building. Although I admit, the fear of that happening to us is why I fixed my own dishwasher, stuffed the cracks behind the stove myself with steel wool, and pretty much never call our landlord, for anything.

    • landlord

      “…just so you can rent to someone who won’t ask you to do maintenance in your building”. I take great pride in my building and spend a fortune maintaining it (way more then the average landlord). As soon as something breaks, I fix it/replace it. However, I can’t be there 24/7 and if its a small issue that anyone can handle…I expect them to handle it. How difficult is it to take an empty shopping bag in the hallway and put it in the garbage?! If you insist that I do that for you….it will cost you!

    • First off, there’s no reason to assume that they can’t afford the new rent. Second I would give a small round of applause to a LL who is giving most tenants preferential rents; I don’t see a problem with removing a preferential rent from a tenant who constantly complains about minor issues.

      • isn’t it sort of the unwritten rule that if your landlord is charging below market, don’t bug them about stupid shit? i’ve only called my landlord once – when my ceiling leaked.

    • Heather you clearly live in a dream world, bk72 said it best. People dont own buildings to subsidize rents for others and its a crime that the courts and system are set up the way they are in NYC given this is a free market/capitalistic society.

  • Dear landlord
    Please heed these words that I speak
    I know you’ve suffered much
    But in this you are not so unique
    All of us, at times, we might work too hard
    To have it too fast and too much
    And anyone can fill his life up
    With things he can see but he just cannot touch

  • Agree with DH about the unwritten rule, and very well said. Appalled by landlord who would raise rent $500 on a high maintenance tenant just because she’s a pain in the ass. I would sooner say, “please vacate by the end of your lease, your demands are unreasonable, goodbye” and get someone more easygoing. I should add that I am both a landlord and a tenant. As a landlord, common wisdom/industry standard/unwritten rule seems to be 5% a year increase. Fair to both parties. This past year my landlord asked for a 15% increase. I negotiated him down to 7 1/2% for a two-year lease. As a landlord, I am totally on top of maintenance issues. As a tenant, I try not to bug my landlord about stupid shit.

    • landlord

      Cara – I can’t say “please vacate by the end of your lease”! By law I must present them with a new lease…regardless if I want them to stay or not. Its not an option….its the law! So my only option to rid of bad tenants is to offer them a new lease with a LEGAL rent hike that is considerably higher then what they currently pay (that’s the only polite way I can tell them YOUR NOT WANTED). If they sign the lease I have no choice but to let them stay…that’s the law! If you were a landlord of a large building, you would know this! Your 2 or 3 family house does not require you to renew leases. I don’t have to be “fair” to any tenant who’s a pain in the butt.

      The tenants can always move to a full service building with a doorman, gym, pool, heated indoor parking, and daycare. I am sure management will not question any minor complaint and will act swiftly to have it resolved….right after they bank the $18,000 per month rent check.

      Cara…you, on the other hand seem like an ideal tenant. Very much like all my other tenants. I plan on having a prime park slope apartment available soon…your more then welcome to take it……and if you can handle your own maintenance issues and not call me about them…. your yearly increases will be less then 5%.

      Oh….One more thing…..Every Christmas I get gifts from some of my tenants! How many landlords do you know of that get Christmas gifts?! That must tell you something about my ability to manage properties.

      • Landlord, just came back to this and saw your reply to mine. Yeah, I forgot you mentioned that you are under the yoke of rent stabilization and can’t just say “goodbye” to a bad tenant so easily. I have no experience with that (but still keep my 5 Brooklyn apartments somewhat under market rate, e.g. $2400 for a 2BR in Boerum Hill– I just can’t keep up with the soaring market and don’t think it’s fair to inflict those prices on good longtime tenants). Um, yes, thanks, I am interested in hearing more about your PS apartment coming available. Please contact me through my blog http://casacara.wordpress.com/about/

  • I manage and/or own properties in central Bklyn, with only 1 being stabilized. Like LL, my tenants are really cool and helpful. As a result, aside from the preferential RS rents, I haven’t increased rents on (then) NS market rents in 6, 7, or 8 years. Becz of taxes, costs, and maintenance, this year I will increase rents for most of the NS mkt rent by ~ $100 ea. That will help approximate my costs, and it’s time.
    We do prefer stable communities. There needs to be rent roll adjustments at times to meet expenses. This is a business. The properties must perform reasonably.
    Some LLs are slumlords. I get that. But, there are more that aren’t sobs. This doesn’t need to be a divisive issue.

  • I have lived in 2 bedroom apartment on Columbia Street in the Waterfront District for 10 years and my building was sold to a new landlord, they want to raise my rent 60% . They have not put a dime into the building and want us to pay $ 1,100 more or leave. We can not afford to move nor pay the massive increase in 30 days, I understand they want “Market Rate” , but we maintained the apartment for last 10 years with no upgrades, any advise?