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Let's Stay Together

Anxious to keep their best tenants, high-end landlords are resorting to a desperate measure: being nice.

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Could it be that the life of a New York City tenant is getting easier? Consider the situation in the seven Upper East Side buildings owned by RFR/Davis: The company, eager to keep its young, upscale tenants happy -- and re-signing -- recently threw a "Swinging Singles" bash on one of its rooftops, complete with stand-up comics and a D.J.

"There's a lot of new development," explains RFR/Davis's Felicia Harrison. "So we're trying to stand out and keep the tenants that we have." At least one renter, Dexter Bridgeman, was impressed: "It must have cost them a fortune." (Harrison is also apt to play matchmaker, providing phone numbers when her eager tenants drool over a hunky financier in the elevator.)

Yes, it's true: All that new construction over the past five years, together with the softened stock market, may just mean that customer service is back. "We're seeing a change in the market, and landlords are willing to do what they can," says Feathered Nest's executive director Ruth McCoy, who's even seen a few of them give out a free month or two of rent. "Any landlord would prefer a good tenant to stay. It's easier not to have turnover." One of Feathered Nest's new buildings, the Foundry, on West 54th Street, has given out more than a dozen $500 Kenneth Cole gift certificates as prizes for successful referrals. "Our tenants are young, and they love the fashion," says president Nancy Packes.

Still, this sort of tenant-stroking takes place in upscale buildings only. (In the RFR/Davis buildings, which have gyms and cinema rooms, a studio can run to $3,000 a month.) But though mom-and-pop landlords aren't brokering first dates for the kids in their partitioned apartments, they are becoming more flexible. "More landlords now will let out-of-state parents co-sign a lease, or they'll take more people sharing," says Christopher Thomas, senior vice-president of William B. May's Brooklyn Heights rental office. "And more are allowing pets." So far, few appear to be making the final concession -- reducing the rent.

Click here for this week's Big Deals.
Click here to find out which Patridge flew his coop.


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