Power Struggle Files: New York Times Claims Balance Of Power In Manhattan Rental Market Tipping Towards Landlords

Time flies when you're writing about real estate. It seems like only a few months ago that we had a post at the Luxury Rentals Manhattan blog entitled "Sad Landlords, Happy Renters." And that's because, as it turns out, it was only a few months ago -- it was only April that the renter's market for Manhattan rental listings was that robust. Since then, though, things have changed -- as the Manhattan real estate market has returned to health, the concessions, incentives and price breaks that defined the renter's market in Manhattan real estate have largely fallen by the wayside. This was already starting to happen back in May, and by late August we were writing mournful posts with titles like "Vacancies Down, Rents Up On NYC Apartments." The lessons of all this? For one, we obviously like that particular style of headline construction. But for another, despite the fact that there are still no-fee apartment listings and good deals on Manhattan rental apartments to be found out there, things have been trending in landlords' direction for some time. That doesn't make it any more exciting to read the New York Times' recent rundown of that situation, but it does at least make things less surprising. Good news, bad news, after the jump.

"At the beginning of the year, renters could demand and receive a month of free rent and maybe even get the landlord to pay their broker’s fees," Vivian Toy reports in the New York Times. "Those concessions, now the exception rather than the rule, are mainly found in brand-new apartment towers whose owners are hoping to fill them quickly. Overall vacancy rates are again hovering around 1 percent, where they were during the boom. Some landlords have started to push for rent increases... Some landlords are asking more from renters during the application process. Brokers at the Real Estate Group New York have noticed that landlords in smaller buildings in particular are requiring a guarantor or more money upfront, either as prepaid rent or a bigger security deposit."

So yeah, obviously great news there. The good news for renters, though, is that it's not all bad news. The rent increases have been less precipitious than expected, largely given the still slow economic recovery, and a surprising bump in vacancy rates in August -- which is usually high season for Manhattan rental real estate -- suggests that the renter's market in Manhattan real estate won't exit the scene quietly. By the time the vacancy rate tightens up next year, as a result of fewer new construction rental apartments hitting the market, the economy will almost certainly be doing better, which means that concessions are likely to continue their slow fade. But for now, let's remember that there are still some good deals on Manhattan rental apartments to be found, and seize the day while we can still afford to do so.