Report: Rents in NYC dipped the past month, but not enough of a reprieve for tenants

Stephon Johnson | 9/13/2018, 12:18 p.m.
A new report from a platform that connects renters with apartment listings showed a monthly dip in rent for an ...

A new report from a platform that connects renters with apartment listings showed a monthly dip in rent for an average New York City apartment. But it’s not enough to make a dent for the average resident.

The September 2018 report, from Apartment List, showed that rents in the city declined over the past month by only 0.1 percent, but are still up 0.6 percent when compared with the same time last year. Median rents in New York are currently $2,110 for a one-bedroom apartment and $2,510 for a two-bedroom. When it comes to year-over-year rent growth, New York City is level with the state at 0.6 percent but is behind the national average (1 percent).

When compared with other cities in New York State, a one-bedroom in Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse is $950, $880 and $840 respectively. The national average for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,180 (in Houston, it’s $1,030) Whereas NYC’s rents still rose marginally in 2018, cities such as Seattle (-2.4 percent) and Chicago (-1.6 percent) saw decreases.

So what’s with the slight dip? Igor Popov, chief economist for Apartment List, gave an explanation.

“There’s been a lot of multifamily construction,” said Popov. “Most construction of multifamily homes skews toward the rent market. One trend we’re seeing is that a lot of units that have been waiting to come on the market are finally here and it’s dampening the growth.”

Popov said that one of the surprising parts of the report was the mellowing out of numbers during the summer months. June, July and August are known to be busy months for people looking for apartments. August is a busy month in the city because of students moving back to the city to attend college.

But some New Yorkers are perfectly fine with the dampening of growth in the price of housing. According to Housing Justice for All, an organization that mobilizes tenants and low-income New Yorkers across the state to put pressure on New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo over housing, New York State residents all over continue to be affected by displacement and rising prices. Homelessness has risen 36 percent since Cuomo took office in 2011, but the state’s budget for housing was slashed by 62 percent. If nothing changes, homeless could hit the 100,000 mark in 2020.

Monique “Mo” George, executive director for Picture the Homeless, said that the peaks and valleys in rent don’t steer away from the fact that the rent is too high.

“Every New Yorker knows it, but homeless folks most of all: regardless of the fluctuations in rent from month to month that are revealed in this report, the fundamental fact remains that New York City is too expensive for too many people, and instead of creating the large-scale truly affordable housing that is needed to address this crisis, the de Blasio administration is focused on expanding a massive shelter system to the tune of 1.8 billion taxpayer dollars a year, and criminalizing homeless people for engaging in life-sustaining behaviors like sleeping,” said George.

It’s something Popov looks to reconcile while keeping an eye on the housing market. When asked how should the average New Yorker feel, about this report, he said it depended on the outlook of the person.

“I think it depends on whether or not if you’re a property owner or a renter, but it’s hard to ignore the cost burden for renters in cities like New York over the recent years,” said Popov. “It’s certainly a welcomed relief for renters.”