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New York City is an expensive—and tricky—place to rent. If you’re on a budget (and really who isn’t) you need to know exactly how much you are going to be paying every month. Sometimes the rent you see advertised for an apartment that you set your heart on is not the rent you actually pay—ouch!
That’s because some New York City landlords offer a free month or two when the market is soft, like it is now, or the apartment is difficult to rent for some reason, which is a good thing for you as a renter. The market is slow for rentals right now because NYC's shutdown makes it hard for landlords to show apartments and so landlords are offering concessions such as free months to fill apartments.
[Editor's note: An earlier version of this post was published in April 2019. We are presenting it again with updated information for June 2020.]
Here's where it gets tricky: Landlords use that concession to advertise the apartment at a lower, net effective rent—essentially they take the discount and shave a little off each month, so it looks less expensive than it actually is. It means an apartment that’s advertised with a net effective rent of $3,300 may actually have a lease that says it is $3,600, with one month free on a 12-month lease.
Even if you set your search parameters to fit your budget of $3,300 maximum, the results you get and what you may unwittingly fall in love with—may actually be that more expensive apartment.
To be clear, it’s not a scam to list an apartment by its net effective rent, but it can feel like something akin to a bait and switch. If you’re not paying attention, or you lack the patience or math skills required to calculate the actual rent, you will be in for a nasty surprise. It's also important to consider that when you renew your lease, if the landlord decides to raise the rent, it will be based on the higher, actual rent, called the gross rent.
Fortunately, it takes only a couple of seconds to figure out the real rent using Brick Underground’s new Gross Rent Calculator, below. Bookmark this page to keep this calculator handy as you navigate and compare the growing number of listings that advertise net effective rents versus the amount you'll actually need to fork over each month.
Gross Rent Calculator
Some New York City landlords offer a free month (or more) at the beginning or end of a lease. The advertised rent is the net effective rent. The net effective rent is less than the amount you will actually have to pay --- known as your gross rent --- during your non-free months.
Brick Underground's Gross Rent Calculator enables you to easily calculate your gross rent, make quick apples-to-apples comparisons between apartments and avoid expensive surprises. All you'll need to figure out your gross rent is 1) the net effective rent, 2) the length of your lease, and 3) how many free months your landlord is offering. [Hint: Bookmark this page for easy reference!]
To learn more about net effective versus gross rents, read What does 'net effective rent' mean?.
If the landlord is offering partial months free, enter it with a decimal point. For example, 6 weeks free rent should be entered as 1.5 months.
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