The Cost of Being a True New Yorker During a Pandemic: Unfair and Exploitative Rent Hikes
By Urban Milan
May 20, 2020
May 20, 2020
In the concrete jungle where dreams are made of some are having their dreams dashed due to coronavirus. With unemployment at record breaking numbers, so much uncertainty about job stability and fears surrounding the effects of the Novel Coronavirus, some landlords are preying on anxious residents by INCREASING rent rates for lease renewing tenants.
There is a sentiment that if you are a true New Yorker you will show your allegiance to this beloved city by staying put and fighting it out during these challenging times. Meanwhile, thousands have fled NYC to the suburbs and the countryside, where population density is less of an issue and proper social distancing is actually achievable.
Governor Cuomo made an announcement assuring New Yorkers that they will not face eviction if they are unable to make rent payments due to disturbances in income related to the pandemic. However, many New Yorkers left in the city (us included) who wish to stay in their current apartments and have the ability to pay their rent payments in full are facing higher rent prices in their lease renewal contracts. Some are even forced to decide whether to commit to a lease renewal, with a higher rent price, over 90 days before their leases are set to end. One residential building, in Harlem, took it so far as to send out lease renewal agreements to current tenants at the height of the pandemic in March, due in May, for apartments that are contracted until September. According to a source that contacted Urban Milan "It is irrational. I think they were trying to lock people in before things got too bad for everyone financially." While most landlords have not taken things that far they still have increased rents in residential buildings that include Stonehenge NYC, Peter Cooper Village, and Greystar for current tenants, while concurrently offering incredibly discounted rental prices and perks to incentivize new tenants. One Manhattan resident confirmed "There is an apartment with the same layout as mine that is going for $3200 for new tenants however my rent has increased to $3985, when asked if they could match it or I could move, I was told that there is no budging on my rent and I can move downstairs but I would have to pay $3595 as I am not a new tenant. When I agreed to look at the apartment I was told that there is already an application on the apartment".
Thousands of apartments listed on Streeteasy.com show significantly reduced prices to attract tenants, whereas for current residents, landlords seem to be banking on the fact that many do not want to move out of their apartments during a pandemic lockdown for fear of contracting COVID-19. All of this leaves many New Yorkers thinking they might be pushed to leave their beloved city at the worst possible time.