Latest NYC Trend: Condo Owners as Landlords

Luxury condos in Manhattan as landlordsA trend is emerging in New York City real estate that doubles as an ideal way to deal with the struggling housing market. High-end condo owners are subletting their homes and moving into new apartments in New York. This trend of subletting in Manhattan began as a way for homeowners struggling to afford their mortgage in a difficult economy to lessen their housing expenses, but it’s since become an option for property owners who want to do things as simple as bring in some extra cash, or move into a more convenient location. And apartments for rent in Manhattan are difficult to come by, so people looking for real estate in New York benefit as well. But the process of becoming a landlord in NYC is often fraught with some surprising concerns that may not have crossed an owner's mind right away. If you're a condo owner who has recently decided to sublet your apartment and add your name to the list of New York City landlords, here are a few tips and suggestions you should keep in mind as you embark on your new role.

As this trend grows a would-be landlord faces one crucial obstacle right off the bat: their own landlords. Each condominium and co-op building has its own set of rules concerning sublets. Many boards at high-end condominiums disallow or frown on individual sublets within their buildings, or have rules as to what kind of tenants are allowed and how long a tenant can remain in a building. Check your building's rules and talk to your building's board to establish what the ground rules are, and let them know that you'll be hunting for a tenant. Then it's time to find one.

Many condo-owners-turned-landlords try to avoid dealing with a rotating cast of tenants, so it helps if the person who wants to sublet your apartment is going to be in it for the long haul. It also helps for your tenants to have as many references as possible. The more documents a subletting tenant provides that prove his or her stability, the easier it is to convince you that they’re trustworthy.  It also pushes things in your tenant's favor if you sense your future tenant is the kind of person to develop loyalty to your building or a fondness for living in your neighborhood -- making your tenant more likely to resign a lease with you.

Condo owners who have gone the sublet route must also decide what kind of relationship to have with their tenants: a strictly professional one or a more friendly relationship. Some landlords choose to establish a positive relationship with their tenants, believing that friendship is the best way for everything to go smoothly. Some landlords say doing this can be as simple as responding immediately to maintenance requests and picking up the rent checks in person. One landlord who sublets his condo in Harlem told the New York Times that a good idea is to keep a list of every reliable repair service nearby at hand for speedy responses.

Another landlord's advice for those considering subletting their apartment cocerns budget. Future landlords should factor in routine maintenance costs into their decisions about what rent to charge. Some landlords have developed such positive relationships with their subletting tenants that they allow them to pay for their own repairs, and then deduct it from their rent.

Landlords at high-end condos generally won’t forbid their tenants from further subletting their apartments, though it is up to you if you choose to do so. If so, you may want to consider attaching rules that make the process more manageable. Some landlords charge a fee, or restrict the amount of time a person can stay, or make homeowners prove they have a need to be away. Sometimes landlords reject a chosen subletting tenant in favor of one of their own. And once the subletting process has begun, there are add-ons that every would-be landlord may be forced to administer depending on the new tenant. For example, New York City requires safety-guards on the windows for families with small children. But for Manhattan condo owners hoping to take advantage of the myriad perks of subletting their homes, these stipulations are easy to overcome.

Comments