How small NYC landlords determine rents

Here's the factors they consider when setting the rent

Jan.January 07, 2018 09:00 AM

(Credit: Pixabay, back; Shafiahmedrizvi/Wikimedia Commons)

How do landlords decide what to charge? Is there a magic formula that can explain how your rent was established?

The New York Times did a survey of small landlords in New York asking them how they determined what rent to charge for their non-rent-regulated apartments and found that most small landlords prioritize good tenants over tenants who can pay high rents, and most don’t price their units as high as the market may allow them.

A few words of wisdom from some of the landlords the Times’ surveyed:

Raise rent incrementally when possible

“No one likes an increase on their first year,” says Christopher Athineos to the Times. “But I’ve made the mistake in the past where I don’t increase them for four years, then all of a sudden, you have to ask them for $75 or $100, and they’re like, “‘Oh my god, you’re killing me.’”

But give breaks when it’s a good tenant

For Athineos, he’s cut breake for his long-standing tenants who are much older.

“I have a couple of senior citizens in Bay Ridge — one woman, her husband passed away a long time ago, she’s in her 80s, on fixed income. I’m like, ‘Sign the lease renewal, no increase,’” he explains. “Or I increase her $5, so she doesn’t feel like a charity case.”

Other landlords take a more tit-for-tat approach.

“My unwritten rule is: You don’t bother me, I don’t bother you,” says Jude Bernard, who rents out his brownstones in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.

When a good tenant got a new roommate who started calling him frequently with minor repairs, that qualified as a “bother” and he nearly doubled the rent the next year.

In the end, the original tenant “assured me her new roommate would not be calling me anymore, and we negotiated a new rent of $3,500,” he says.

[NYT] — Erin Hudson

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