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Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg
Savings & Retirement

Manhattan Landlords Offer Record Perks to Fill Empty Apartments

  • Rents tumbled 19% in January as listings continued to pile up
  • Freebies averaged 2.3 months, most in over a decade of data

Manhattan apartment landlords are resorting to the biggest move-in concessions on record in an effort to fill empty units during the pandemic.

In January, the value of incentives on new leases averaged 2.3 months of free rent, the most in more than a decade of data-keeping by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

Rental Rebates

Manhattan landlords are giving away record move-in perks

Source: Miller Samuel Inc. and Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Apartments in costly Manhattan are a tough sell these days, as employees working remotely see little reason to live close to the office. With many schools and cultural attractions also still shuttered, the main lure for renters weighing an apartment lease in the borough is getting a sizable bargain.

“You’ve got to keep sweetening the pot,” said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel. “The purpose of it is to temper the decline.”

Read more: Rents Slide in NYC, San Francisco While Cheaper Cities Surge

The freebies helped somewhat. New lease signings jumped 58% from a year earlier to 6,255, the most for a January since 2008, the firms said in a report Thursday. But that didn’t do much to whittle down the pile of vacant apartments. Listings almost tripled from last January to 12,447.

And revenue for landlords is still slipping. With the value of concessions subtracted, the median rent in Manhattan plunged 19% to $2,812.