The Rent Concession Game: Some Considerations

"I'm not looking for bells and whistles," says one New York City apartment dweller who scored housing after a concerted search earlier this year.

"I'm looking for an apartment that I can live in."

A recent New York Times article indicates that would-be tenants' journeys en route to lease agreements penned on reasonable terms are in fact often replete these days with hyped concessions offered by landlords that make the process increasingly complex and even problematic.

The reason, notes the Times, is this: Many apartment hunters in boroughs across the city are finding that the benefits allegedly linked with landlords' enticements are less impressive than what they initially seem to be.

In fact, they are sometimes illusory.

A case in point is the "free rent" pitch often offered, that is, the "opportunity" for a tenant to forgo paying rent for a month or two on a one-year lease.

The problem with that for many tenants is that the remaining months of rent come at a higher price, which effectively erases any perceived reduction-related benefits.

Moreover, it plays into landlords' hands by raising the rent upon lease renewal to its full price.

A number of commentators in the above-cited article make it fairly clear that many rent-related enticements offered by landlords are viewed as mere baubles and trinkets, with renters wanting what is truly important, namely, a fairly priced dwelling without gimmicks attached.

Evidence now points to at least a modest creep downward at some rental prices across the city.

Currently, notes the Times, rents "are hovering near historic highs in Brooklyn and Manhattan." If various discount schemes aren't bringing in new tenants to the degree hoped for by landlords, actually offering lower rents might do the trick. 

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