Realty Bites

I saw a place that has lower rent only while scaffolding is up. Is this a good deal?

By Austin Havens-Bowen | May 4, 2021 - 4:00PM 

A landlord might offer a discount to compete in the current market, but it's not typical.

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Question:

I found a listing for an apartment that says the advertised rent is only applicable during a project that requires scaffolding. Once the scaffolding comes down, the rent will increase by $500. I really like the apartment but is it worth $500 to put up with construction when the place is only going to get more expensive? Should I negotiate?

Answer:

This landlord is offering a discount presumably because the scaffolding will block natural light from coming into your place and there will likely be some noise and dust as a result of the construction project.

Still, offering a lower rent in this scenario is unusual. Most landlords do not typically offer a discount for putting up with scaffolding, says Karen Kostiw, a broker at Warburg Realty. That’s because under Local Law 11, facade inspections, which require scaffolding, are mandated every five years for buildings six stories or higher. 


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This landlord may be offering a discount because there are so many vacant apartments on the market right now.

“Most landlords have factored in the inconvenience with the rental rate and concessions in this environment,” Kostiw says. But, “it never hurts to try to negotiate given the current rental environment,” she says. You could ask to have the discount applied to the entire lease regardless of whether the scaffolding is up.

In a sense you are taking a risk that the scaffolding won't stay up for an extended period (some building owners leave it up for months) and that the discount will offset any discomfort.

So you should weigh the inconvenience if you really like the apartment: Facade repairs happen floor by floor—the work will loudest when it reaches your floor and less bothersome on other floors, Kostiw says. Some buildings will set up work areas during this time so you can escape your apartment when it is too noisy to work there, she says.

Not all landlords can lower the rent because scaffolding is going up. Most of the time the need for scaffolding is out of the landlord’s control, says Arik Lifshitz, CEO of DSA Property Group. Sometimes a landlord has to put scaffolding up because work is being done on a building next door.

There are a couple of other things you should consider about living in an apartment with scaffolding: For example, you will have to keep your windows closed to prevent dust and debris from dirtying your apartment, says Sheila Trichter, a broker at Warburg Realty. 

Other downsides: If you have a balcony, you probably won’t be able to use it for at least a couple of weeks and you will also lose privacy, Trichter says. “Keep in mind, however, that this is a necessary evil that all of us who live in tall buildings have to endure,” she says.

So, while it’s a good deal to receive a $500 discount while there’s scaffolding up, there are other factors to consider, especially if the market-rate rent puts the apartment out of your budget. And, if you really don’t want to pass the place up, negotiating is always worth a shot.

 

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