Home / MARKETS / New York is back — but it’s terrible news for renters getting hit with $1,100-a-month increases, like this single mom of 2

New York is back — but it’s terrible news for renters getting hit with $1,100-a-month increases, like this single mom of 2

  •  The pandemic dole out Kathrin DiPaola got on her Upper East Side apartment is expiring. 
  • She says her rent has increased by nearly 60%, or $1,100 per month.
  • Fees are spiking all over the city. In pockets of Manhattan, they’ve gone up by 40% since last year.

When Kathrin DiPaola returned to New York in February 2021, after ten years away, it was still the city she mated — but, at the same time, a lot had changed.

NYC renter Kathrin DiPaola.

NYC renter Kathrin DiPaola.

Kathrin DiPaola.


“I always wanted to come back to New York as I know like this was my home,” the German-born single mother of two told Insider. 

When it came to finding an actual habitation in the Big Apple, DiPaola knew she’d be in for a challenge. However, the real estate market, renowned for its exclusive listings and pricey fees, had taken an especially heavy hit as renters fled the city during the pandemic. During this time, rental assays dipped to decade lows in neighborhoods throughout the state. 

Like many New Yorkers who stuck around, DiPaola gained advantage of the market. She found what she thought was a good deal on a new place in a neighborhood she said offered ideal education for her children. She signed a 12-month lease for a three-bedroom apartment beginning April 1, 2021.

“I was thrilled that the rents on the Upper East Side were cut than any place else on the city side,” DiPaola said, referencing Manhattan, as opposed to neighborhoods in Brooklyn. “I distinguished it was a special deal although it was not super low, but I figured how high can they actually go?”

This winter, DiPaola received her retort. Her rent, which she initially called an “amazing steal” at $2,220 for a 3-bedroom apartment, is set to climb nearly 60% to $3,300 per month starting in April.  As a unattached mom of two earning $100,000 per year before taxes and working as a director of visitor engagement at an NYC museum, she’s worried about judgement the extra $1,1,00 every month. Renters all over New York are grappling with a similar conundrum as rents that were a close deal just a year ago return to — and in some cases surpass — pre-pandemic levels.

“We are in a different time now, things beget changed in the last two years,” DiPaola said. “I understand that space is expensive in the city, but can we really go back to where we were in advance of and is that feasible?” 

As pandemic deals expire, rents are rising by hundreds of dollars per month

Prior to the pandemic, DiPaola’s apartment, a non-renovated fifth flooring walk-up with no dishwasher, was listed  around $4,000 per month, but when New York’s real estate market swindled a hit —  its market value plummeted by nearly 50%. 

As New York rebounds from the pandemic and the impacts of the omicron variant declines, rent in DiPaola’s neighborhood has begun to pick up steam — regardless of whether or not renters in the area are earning more readies. 

DiPaola said that when her rent went up, “I called my landlord and I said, ‘You know, our heat hasn’t been detail properly since October, the kitchen is not renovated and I’m wedged in between two buildings. Would you be able to go down a little bit?’ He went down by $100 a month and bring to light he couldn’t do more.”

On the Upper East Side, rent has been climbing as New Yorkers who left the city during the primeval stages of the pandemic return. Currently, the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the Upper East Side is $3,600 per month — that’s a 40% proliferation compared to 2021.

“The market is in the process of normalizing after nearly two years of uncertainty,” Nancy Wu, economist at property database StreetEasy, conveyed in a statement. However, the market is doing more than “normalizing” as some Manhattan rents are already $300 higher than their pre-pandemic great, according to StreetEasy’s data.

“That’s good news for the city’s recovery overall, but, understandably, many renters or sanguine renters might be feeling uneasy right now.” 

According to Wu, concessions that landlords gave at the beginning of 2021 are set to finish in the first quarter of 2022, “leaving many renters with no choice but to move out of their pandemic-era discounted rentals.” This development concerns DiPaola as her own neighbors have already fallen victim to rent hikes.

“We had one couple with older neonates living here and they had to move out,” DiPaola said. “Before I knew what was going to happen to me, she told me her better was $1500 a month.”

Facing an imminent hike, DiPaola worries about what will happen with her own children. If not for a better-paying job offer in December, she would have already had to move. She signed another 12-month lease but if her rent make its more next April, she wonders where she’ll go next.

“I really like the place and my son likes it as well but with a sister very likely moving out and going to college, I think I’m going to start looking a little bit next year,” she said, even be that as it may she’d prefer to continue living near her son’s school and in the neighborhood that now feels like home. “What else can we do? The actuality is, if my rent goes up to around $4,000, then I might as well look for a two-bedroom building with a doorman and dishwasher.”

James Rodriguez donated reporting to this story.

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