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Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Manhattan landlords yank apartments off the market and leave them EMPTY rather than rent them at rates still depressed by COVID - with prices down more than 17% since last year

 A growing number of Manhattan landlords have been pulling apartments off the market to avoid renting them at lower rates due to the coronavirus pandemic, new data indicates.

According to the real estate data analysis company UrbanDigs, in February alone building owners removed 1,814 unrented apartment listings in Manhattan, which is more than thee times the number of units yanked off the market around the same time last year.

The practice of pulling apartments off the market, known as 'warehousing,' has come under fire from affordable housing advocates and lawmakers, who contend that refusing to rent out apartments at lower-than-usual rates exacerbates the city's already severe housing shortage, reported Wall Street Journal.

Real estate data show that jittery Manhattan landlords pulled 1,814 rental apartments off the market in February alone

Median rental prices in Manhattan tumbled more than 17 per cent by the end of December 2020

Median rental prices in Manhattan tumbled more than 17 per cent by the end of December 2020

Critics say landlords' refusal to rent apartments at lower rates worsens the city's already severe housing shortage. This chart shows the city's total rental inventory steadily falling between August-January 2021

Critics say landlords' refusal to rent apartments at lower rates worsens the city's already severe housing shortage. This chart shows the city's total rental inventory steadily falling between August-January 2021

Landlords, however, argue that they have no choice but to pull their rental properties off the market to protect themselves from new restrictions that make it more difficult for them to evict non-paying tenants amid the pandemic.

A report from Miller Samuel, an appraisal firm, and real-estate heavy-weight Douglas Elliman has revealed that median rental prices in Manhattan tumbled more than 17 per cent by the end of December 2020 - a trend that has been attributed to residents fleeing the city to the suburbs and other states due to high infection and rising crime rates. 

With large numbers of telecommuting New Yorkers leaving the city, the supply of rental properties increase and the rent decreased.  


Manhattan's apartment 'warehousing' reached a fever pitch last summer, with panicked landlords pulling 5,563 listings in August alone, according to the newly released data.

Experts say landlords could be taking a wait-and-see approach with the anticipation that rents would go up in the spring and summer as COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available to the general public, instead of getting stuck with discounted long-term leases.

The practice of de-listing unrented apartments, called 'warehousing,' has come under fire from affording housing advocates and lawmakers

The practice of de-listing unrented apartments, called 'warehousing,' has come under fire from affording housing advocates and lawmakers

Landlords content that new restrictions make it more difficult for them to evict non-paying tenants amid the pandemic

Landlords content that new restrictions make it more difficult for them to evict non-paying tenants amid the pandemic

One landlord, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Journal that he pulled 15 per cent of his apartments in two buildings in the Lower East Side to protect himself from the eviction moratorium and lower-than-normal rent rates.

'You’re kind of taking a double risk, so if you can afford to, why wouldn’t you just wait it out?' he said.  

The state Legislature passed the Emergency Eviction Act at the end of last year, suspending nearly all eviction proceedings for 60 days until February 26 for tenants who have lost income or increased expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic, or for whom moving to a different home would pose a hardship.  

State Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat from Manhattan, last year introduced a law to fine landlords who warehouse apartments for more than three months.

Rosenthal said she plans to introduce a new version of the bill later this year.

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