Monday, February 02, 2009

Craigslist amusement

Okay. I’m feeling a little, just a little chirpier now. The studio I wanted so much turned out to have been rented before I even saw it.(Grr.)Somehow, having the decision taken out of my hands has calmed me down. Then the apartment viewing I had in Chelsea at 645pm turned out to be with a charming & lovely designer (and a fabulously fat & squishy pug called Ollie) who, although I think I can’t afford his immaculate, boutique hotel-worthy room, restored my faith that there are normal people out there looking for roommates for normal apartments.

One of the reasons the whole rental process here is so aggravating for me is because it works completely differently to London. Whereas in London the only person paying agent/broker fees is the owner of the property, here the tenant has to fork out a LOT of money, sometimes even six month’s rent as a finder’s fee to the broker. The tenant is also required to undergo a through credit check and often provide evidence of regular annual income at least 40x the monthly rental.

When you think that it’s difficult to find anything live-able in for less than $1400 a month per room, you can see the inherent problems for a freelancer trying to find a home. The only other alternative is to get a friend or parent to stand guarantor – and that requires them to file evidence of their fiscal standing for the past two or three years from mortgage to pay slips. Which is hardly an option.

Hence the sub-letting rental market that has sprung up on Craigslist where people post details of fee-free room shares & sub-lets literally by the minute, sorted by geographical location. It’s also quite common here to sub-let a place fully-furnished by the day, week or month - which comes in equally handy for people who travel a lot and for tourists visiting the city, who can stay in a proper home for a fifth of the price of a hotel.

But god, trawling through the entries is a full time job in itself. 90% seem to be in Harlem, which is miles away from the area I want to be in Downtown, many require first & last month & a month’s security deposit upfront which is too much cash for me to have tied up, and an unfeasible amount have crappy loft beds hacked together out of random lengths of timber or are partitioned off living rooms masquerading as bedrooms. (Hello credit crunch.)

And then there are those with, hmm, unusual requirements. I came across this today:
“The market rent for my apartment is $4,500 per month. Your share of the rent is only $485.00. including all utilities. We will share the apartment including the master bedroom.”

And this one is quite special:
“I got this idea from an article in Time Out New York that I read a while ago… I live alone in the East Village, and have an empty bedroom and a lot of space. I am offering the empty room w/private bathroom for only $130 a month. Here is the catch...of course there is a catch. I'm a white late 20's guy that works in finance. I work A LOT and therefore my social life has become nonexistent. So, I want to add a little bit of excitement to my life. I would like to rent the room to a woman between the ages of 18-27... I would like you to be a slim attractive girl who is OK with occasionally walking around or hanging out in her underwear <---yes...that would be the slightly crazy part.”

Shall I? Hmm. Perhaps not.