The NYC rental apartment market has never seen such high prices and low vacancy rates as we’re living through right now. As the New York Times reported recently, even if you’re willing to sign on with a roommate or two, and live farther and farther “inland” in Brooklyn or Queens, AND don’t mind many-story walkups or NYC rental apartments that are, in the words of the “hero” of the piece, Sophia Cosmadopoulos, “kind of falling apart”, it’s becoming harder and harder to live anywhere in this town, under almost any conditions, in the once-common $650 a month range.
But even with–or, I should say, because of–record high rents and low vacancies, several interesting niche businesses have popped up in the past few years that cater to either the tenant, the landlord, or both.
The most obvious example of a business that lets people to squeeze some some extra cash out of their NYC rental apartments is, of course, AirBnB, the online vacation-rental company that allows anyone to rent out just about any piece of property, usually at a nightly or, in some cases, a weekly rate, to anybody else.
And New Yorkers have, so far, fully embraced the concept: according to the Wall Street Journal, on any given night there are more than 7,000 NYC living spaces of all description, such as the Greenpoint loft, above, offered up on the Airbnb website.This, despite the fact, that many of the offerings on AirBnB are illegal in NYC.
Most fall into the expected NYC rental apartment range (from studios to lofts to penthouse duplexes), but there are some oddball options as well, including a house barge in Sheepshead Bay, a backyard “caravan” on the Lower East Side, as well as any number of less-than-private guest bedrooms, and even an air mattress on the floor of Corona studio apartment that already houses two people. True, it’s only $16 a night, but still…
Two other less-well-known NYC rental apartment niche businesses came to my attention recently, one for landlords, the other for prospective tenants. First, Brick Underground had an amusing report from the small but likely-to-grow world of “Speed Roommating”, a planned social event that throws together people seeking a roommate for their NYC rental apartment, and people seeking to become that roommate.
The event’s name is a bit misleading, as it turns out: unlike a speed dating situation, where you might spend two minutes across a table from your potential roomie, then move on to the next, then on to the next, this is really more of a hang-out-and-drink-while-wearing-a-name tag kind of deal. Still, these Speed Roommating events are free, and might be worth a shot.
Finally, there’s Eventup, a California concern that opened its virtual doors in New York City recently. The idea here? Through Eventup, landlords can rent out their vacant apartments for one night to people needing a place to party. The apartments range from Bod Dylan’s former in the West Village (pictured at top) and Katharine Hepburn’s four-story Turtle Bay brownstone to a decked-out Bed-Stuy duplex and a Midtown studio with a large terrace. Prices and security deposits, as you can imagine, vary widely.
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