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Manhattan tenants socked with painful price spike in past year

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Renting a Manhattan pad is going to cost you a lot more these days - assuming you can find one.

The average monthly rent for a Gotham apartment jumped hundreds of dollars last year, according to real estate market reports released Thursday. The reports also found that scoring an apartment has gotten even tougher.

"All metrics that impact the tenants have really swung in the landlord's favor," said Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats, a real estate firm that issued one of the reports. "Rents are up, vacancies have been down... concessions - whether it be one month free or payment of the broker fee - virtually were eliminated."

"It just became a tight competitive market for the renter," he added.

Citi Habitats' year-end report showed an increase in the average Manhattan rent from $3,046 in 2010 to $3,309 last year.

But when factoring in the loss of concessions renters once got, people are actually forking over more than the $263 average increase in rent.

Another report by Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate showed similar hikes. Real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller, who authored the year-end report, said rents are up because fewer people are able to buy. "Instead of being driven by an improving economy, most of the improvement is because credit is so tight," Miller said. "That's causing rents to rise... and it's causing apartments to rent out faster."

Maggie Russell-Ciardi of Tenants and Neighbors, an advocacy group, said higher rents are making New Yorkers resort to "difficult measures" to stay.

"A lot of people are choosing between 'do I pay rent or do I buy groceries?'" she said. "There are definitely people that are being pushed out of their homes out of their neighborhoods."

But Malin said a majority of his clients rather pay more than move. "The reality is, people pony up the money," he said.

Brittany Ambridge, 27, was one of those clients.

"I had been looking for months, and all of the things I found were scams on Craigslist," she told amNewYork.

With help from a broker, she finally found a place at the end of October just a few days before her sublet on the Upper East Side ended. Though it was rent stabilized, her monthly rent ballooned from $975 to $1,400, and the landlord didn't offer any incentives.

"They weren't willing to concede on anything. They don't have to - there's enough demand," said Ambridge, a photo producer at an online magazine, who added that she "adores" her new pad.

"It's crazy," she said. "There are just too many people, and not enough apartments for them."


Follow reporter Marc Beja on Twitter: @marc_beja

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