Property Grunt

Thursday, April 13, 2006

No Fee New York: The book

The Nouveau Native's No Fee New York 2006 is the latest NYC guide franchise to hit the streets. The book address all of the insanity of renting an apartment including financial realities, which covers all the bases including what options a renter has if they have horrible credit and how to properly prepare themselves in searching for an apartment.

Another great aspect of this book is that they have an enormous guide of rental building listing all of the major landlords, which will allow renters to look for apartments on their own.

I do applaud the efforts of the team behind this book. They have made a concerted effort to provide a proper guide for the FNGs trying to find a place in New York and clearing up the confusion. Overall I was impressed with the guide itself since it explains the entire rental process from soup to nuts but there is always room for improvement.

On Page 71, the book states that you are unable to rent from a Condo or Coop with out a broker. I wish that was true because I would be making a lot more money. From my understanding it is at the discretion of the owner to utilize a broker to rent out a condo or coop.

On Page 94 the book states that renters should be careful not to make noise since it can result in a police action, arrest and eviction.. In my experience noise complaints are low on the totem pole of priorities of police.

Several months ago I called the cops on some neighbors who were blasting their stereos at 2 am. I had no desire to talk to them because in my experience loud music at that hour usually means the consumption of drugs and alcohol and if you watch an episode of COPS you will know that even politely asking someone who is under the influence can result in an altercation. I also wanted to maintain my anonymity since I did not want to be a target for retribution. So I called 311. The cops did arrive. Three hours later. I want to make it clear that I am not ragging on the cops. In the grand scheme of things a noise complaint barely registers on their radar compared to the other nastiness they have to deal with on a daily basis so I completely understand that an attempted murder and burglary take priority over my noise compliant.

As for using noise as grounds for eviction if that were the case then there would be a lot of empty buildings in Manhattan. When I first complained about noise in my building my landlord offered to write a letter to the offending party informing them that they were violating my right to quiet enjoyment but he would not release their identities to me or take any further action. When I spoke to my super about noise issues, he urged me to talked to them in person and only spoke to tenant after I dragged him to my apartment to hear the Metallica concert going off above me.

The bottom line is that unless property is being damaged, building policy is being violated or rent is not being paid, a landlord will not even bother to evict a tenant on grounds of being noisy.

On page 70, the book states that brokers charge from 7-22% for the commission. 22%? Twenty-two f**king percent? Are you kidding me? The standard is 15% and I have never heard of anyone stupid enough to pay 22% for the fee.

I also spotted several grammatical and spelling errors including this one on Chapter 7 page 52, the sentence put out is “In a city with a 3% vacancy rating this is no small feet.” It should be “feat”. As Joyce Cohen can attest, I am no grammar wiz and I am sure if Strunk and White were alive they would be collectively beating me with their typewriters for my crimes against the English language but for 23 bucks and change, you would expect a little consistency.

As for the listings buildings that are presented in the book, before you jump for joy knowing that you can screw the broker out of their fee you need to be aware of several things.

1. The majority of these buildings take a corporate approach in renting out their properties. That means they will have a formula for their ideal tenant, which include the proper salary and the proper credit report. If you do not fit that formula, they will tell you to f**k off. What I also noticed is that some landlords are now issuing co-brokes, which is understandable, considering the amount of taxes and other expenses they have to pay, they are looking to squeeze every penny they can. So do not be surprised that you have to pay a fee even without a broker.

2. As I have stated before, landlords and property management companies are extremely busy and often do not have the man power to administer the needs of desperate people needing a place to live, therefore do not be surprised if you call these places up and they refer you to an exclusive broker.

3. From my experience a lot of these buildings are cookie cutter high end or piece of crap apartments and because of the formula there usually is very little room to negotiate. If you want to rent something that has more character your best option is to deal with a small landlord who are also a bit more flexible in the rent. Be aware that usually the small landlord has outsourced rental administration to a broker so you might be looking at a fee.

In the book there is no definition of a no fee apartment. Which is kind of ironic since no fee is in the title. According to the Publicity Department of L’Abeille Publishing, they avoided defining the term due to public confusion. Apparently some people thought it meant no broker fee, others thought it meant no credit report. In my experience a no fee apartment is: An apartment where landlord or property manager pays the fee.

You couldprobably get most of this information online, but as far as I am concerned the team behind has put together a comprehensive guide to renting an apartment in New York City and is definitely worth the price. Despite my criticisms I would recommend this book to prospective renters since it gives a good rundown in how to find an apartment and execute a lease signing. I would also recommend this book to anyone interested in becoming a landlord or rental agent since it provides invaluable information of how property mangers and landlords work and what is involved in finding good tenants.