If you’re in the middle of a lease, your landlord might not be willing to budge. Either way, it’s always worth checking your apartment’s rent history. “The records might show that your apartment has been illegally deregulated, or that you’ve been overcharged,” Ms. Donoghue said. “It helped one of my recent clients discover that his landlord owed him $9,000 .”
In New York City, you can request rent records from the Division of Housing and Community Renewal. Other cities have different laws, but familiarizing yourself with your rights as a tenant will always work in your favor.
Go for big buildings over small ones.
Certain types of buildings are more likely to be discounted than others. “Most of the people who have left New York City this year tend to be younger renters — more transient people in their early 20s and 30s who have older family members they can go live with, or jobs where they can work remotely,” Mr. Brown said. “These people are more likely to live in big, no-fee rental buildings that are owned by commercial landlords, and those buildings haven’t been doing well since the pandemic hit.”
These buildings are also less desirable from an infection standpoint, Ms. Wu added. “We’re not seeing as much demand for large luxury rentals where you’re sharing elevators with 500 neighbors, and where part of your rent includes amenities like a pool and a gym that’s been closed,” she said. But if you’re looking for a deal, this is where you might find it.
The same goes for smaller apartments; if you’ve been looking to ditch your roommates, now is the time to pounce on a studio or a modest one- or two-bedroom. “Apartments with lower square footage have seen significantly more vacancy in New York City and many urban areas today, because the people who live in them tend to be more mobile,” Mr. Brown said. “We haven’t seen as much turnover in apartments with three or four bedrooms, where you have families of four or five with schools and multiple jobs to anchor them.”
As for single-family homes? Good luck. “Most of the deals we’re seeing are for multifamily housing,” Ms. Young said. “If you’re trying to rent a single-family home, that’s a much tighter market, which makes sense given that many people are working from home with kids who are doing remote school, and they need more space.”
Think about what the landlord is looking for.
Most large commercial landlords just want someone to pay rent in full, on time. But some mom-and-pop landlords are willing to negotiate if they like you and think you’ll be a reliable tenant. The key is to get personal.