Here Are the Luxe Amenities that NYC Renters Can Live Without
Doormen, balconies and building fitness centers may seem like the ne plus ultra of New York apartment living — but does every renter want to have them?
As much as New York renters seek ardently desired features at home — actual counter space, some kind of view, a spot for a nightstand — there are some things they decidedly don’t care about.
Renters are indifferent to pools and gyms, according to a recent survey of 1,000 renters from Piñata, a rental rewards membership program.
The Piñata survey, however, was nationwide. Few New York renters even have a building pool on their radar. Only 82 rental buildings in Manhattan have pools, out of approximately 16,000 rental buildings in the borough, according to real-estate data company UrbanDigs.
There are, however, plenty of amenities that just don’t matter to New York renters — especially since they’re likely to hike up the cost of an already pricey rental.
A doorman is beloved by some and considered a necessary evil by others, but plenty of New Yorkers are happier without one. Doormen may keep packages safe from theft — but not everyone enjoys making small talk whenever they enter the lobby.
Several young women living on the Upper West Side say they’re disturbed by nosy and judgmental doormen.
“Being shamed for having an ice cream is something I can live without,” one renter said.
“I don’t want to feel shame when I’m tired and take my dog on short walks, or have them watching my failed attempts at dating,” another said.
One woman, active on her local Buy Nothing group, is intimidated by her grumpy daytime doorman, who grouses about so many pickups and drop offs. Another, who searches for treasures lining the sidewalk on bulk pickup night, said, “I would feel extremely judged when I stoop and haul back the most random things at 2 a.m.”
Then there’s the annual stressor of obligatory tips.
“A huge staff bankrupts me during the holiday tipping season,” one woman said.
One common amenity in big buildings, a gym or fitness center, is not especially important to renters. They would rather use an outside gym “because they thrive on the social aspects,” said Adam Bokunewicz, a salesperson at Keller Williams NYC. “The building gym is used as a last resort” when the weather is bad or the outside gym is closed.
“Who wants to sweat next to your neighbor?” said Noemi Bitterman, a salesperson at Corcoran. “Getting out is totally the point. Whenever I show a property, the gym looks pristine and is generally empty.”
And to less active New Yorkers, a building gym can be an unhappy reminder.
“I don’t need it rubbed in my face how easy it would be to exercise,” one renter said.
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What people think they want, but rarely use, is a balcony. Many are too small and cramped to be practical. Sometimes the wind and weather don’t cooperate, or street noise is a problem.
“I thought outdoor space would be useful with a kid, but it stressed me out listening to rats rummaging around at night,” said a Manhattan mother who once had a yard.
Many renters are “drawn to the promise of private outdoor space, only to return to us once their lease comes due,” preferring an apartment with “that precious extra square footage inside,” said Brian Hourigan, managing director of Bond New York.
He also finds that renters eschew the many “outlandish amenities” on offer by newish luxury buildings that are seeking to create buzz or “justify a more aspirational or aggressive rent,” he said.
These include golf simulators, yoga rooms and recording studios.
“These gimmicky offerings tend to be found in inversely proportional frequency to the historical desirability of the neighborhood,” Hourigan said. He finds them generally underutilized, if not almost entirely unused.
A few rental buildings even feature a bowling alley.
“Our bowling lanes are used only for children’s birthday parties,” one downtown agent lamented.
“Fresh flowers in the lobby, elaborate landscaping and fountains hold no interest for renters,” said Gerard Splendore, an associate broker at Coldwell Banker Warburg.
Interest in going green is zilch, he finds — renters don’t care about solar energy, composting or energy efficiency.
“Buildings with ‘A’ energy ratings are not as important to tenants as monthly extermination services,” he said.
Some supposedly desirable interior features decidedly aren’t. One Crown Heights mother hates the relentless sunlight blazing through floor-to-ceiling windows.
“The expense of air conditioning is nuts,” she said — not to mention the distasteful look of faded upholstery.
There is even such a problem as ceilings that are too high, requiring a ladder for bulb-changing because a step stool is not enough.
“A call to the super to change a lightbulb feels humiliating,” said one renter with 12-foot ceilings.
A fireplace, though seemingly a cozy fitting, frustrates one Park Slope man. It consumes the living room’s limited wall space and serves no purpose.
“I put the dog bed in the fireplace,” he said. “I didn’t know what else to do with the space.”
Pre-existing wall-to-wall carpet is universally abhorred. “Tenants couldn’t care less if it’s Stark carpet,” said one agent who is struggling to rent a two-bedroom midtown listing with a double whammy — carpeted bedrooms and a windswept balcony. “They are skeeved out. They would much rather put their own rug down.”
The Holy Grail of apartment living, of course, is an in-unit washer/dryer. At least three households in the naked city actively don’t want one.
“I would rather drop off at a laundromat and get it folded,” one Brooklyn man said. “You can’t drop off your dishes!”
A West Side mother prefers having a building laundry room to an in-unit washer-dryer “so I can do five loads in the same amount of time as one.”
And a mother of two was happy to relinquish a washer/dryer in her family’s luxury Riverside Boulevard rental and move to a different building with a big basement laundry room.
“When we lived in a home with a washer/dryer, it was running nonstop,” she said. “Now, the housekeeper does the laundry once a week.”
Source: New York Post