New York

Most New Yorkers Don't Make the Money Needed to Pay NYC Rent: Study

The cost of renting a New York apartment is often vastly more than what a typical resident earns, a new study says

What to Know

  • Many landlords require tenants to earn 40 times the monthly rent before they'll rent an apartment to them
  • A new study has found most New Yorkers would struggle to meet that requirement with their earnings
  • Median asking rents for 40-times-the-rent apartments in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens are often too pricey for the boroughs' median incomes

It’s well known among apartment-dwelling New Yorkers that many landlords demand tenants make at least 40 times the monthly rent before they’ll hand over the keys. But most New Yorkers couldn’t fulfill that strict requirement on their incomes, according to a new study.

When the 40-times-the-rent rule was taken into account, the vast majority of potential renters couldn’t afford the median asking rent of an apartment in their neighborhood on their borough’s median household income, the study by StreetEasy found.

The informal landlord-tenant rule basically means those looking for many apartments in the city without a guarantor must locate a place where the rent’s no more than 30 percent of their income. As the income-rent gap continues to widen, more New Yorkers find themselves putting a greater share of their earnings towards rent.

In fact, only one neighborhood in the three boroughs measured had a median asking rent affordable on the median income: Inwood. The median rent there is $1,825 per month, while the annual income recommended to live in an apartment in Inwood is $73,000. That’s nearly six percent less than what the average household earns in Manhattan, making it "affordable," according to the study.

See the income needed to pay the median asking rent in your neighborhood: 

For the study, StreetEasy applied the 40-times-the-rent rule to its data on median asking rents for market-rate apartments in each neighborhood in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. It compared this data to the median household income in each borough based on the latest census report. The study gives an idea of affordability, although it doesn’t reflect the fact many New Yorkers have some of their rent burden alleviated through rent control, roommates and other arrangements.

Manhattan was the most expensive and the most affordable of the three boroughs. That’s because as a destination for the well-heeled, many who want to live in Manhattan can afford it. Of course, most New Yorkers don’t have the money to live in the borough’s most exclusive neighborhoods.

In Manhattan’s most expensive neighborhood, Central Park South, the median asking rent is a whopping $6,850. With a recommended income of $274,000, Central Park South residents must make 253.3 percent more than the typical Manhattan household ($77,559) to afford to live there, the study says. (The median income for all of New York City is $58,856.)

Neighborhoods vary less drastically in affordability in Brooklyn and Queens, but the disparity between their asking rents and the typical income is stark, according to the study. That’s because while asking rents may be lower there, the recommended income for apartments still towers over the median household income. For example, the median income for Brooklynites is $55,150, but the recommended income for the borough’s most "affordable" neighborhood, Bensonhurst, is $68,000.

In Queens, not a single neighborhood is truly "affordable" to a renter earning the borough-wide median income of $62,207, the study says, though the borough’s least expensive neighborhoods are more in balance than in Brooklyn, where the disparity between asking rent and income tended to be greater.

In a true testament to how wide the gap between income and rent in the city has become, the study revealed that in 21 of the neighborhoods surveyed, the required income was over 100 percent more than the typical income. In over half the neighborhoods, the required income was at least 50 percent more than the typical income.

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