How To Rent A Townhouse


The New York Post

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TIRED of small pads in big buildings? The space, privacy and old-world charm of a townhouse probably sound pretty good. Problem is, they often come with multimillion-dollar price tags. One solution – test out the doorman-free waters and rent a townhouse. That is, if you can. Townhouse rentals are a truly limited commodity in Manhattan – mega-broker Douglas Elliman listed just 43 last year. But take heart, that just makes the search easier. “If someone was looking, you could show them everything in town in his price range in a day,” says Rosemarie Bernard, a broker at Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy who specializes in townhouses.

Rentals make up about 5 percent of the townhouse market. Rents for complete townhouses currently available range from $15,000 for a triplex with a garden to more than $50,000 for a four-story, 15-room, 15-fireplace, 9,000-square-foot gem on the Upper West Side. “They’ve become so overpriced that people are putting houses on the market for $25,000 and $30,000, when they should’ve been $17,000 and $18,000,” says Tim Desmond, vice president at Stribling and Associates. Still, if you’ve got the funds, $25,000 in rent actually can be cheaper than mortgage payments, if you bought the same townhouse for $7 million. In some cases, you can even opt to buy the house you’re renting, but that’s the exception, not the norm.

Townhouse rentals can be ideal when corporations relocate their employees. They’re also favored by foreign ambassadors and dignitaries, who value the privacy and space for entertaining, and only need a place temporarily. A more affordable option is renting part of a townhouse – it’s fairly common to find duplexes or triplexes in townhouses, with commercial space on the ground floor. “They really do come in all shapes and sizes,” says Tom Wexler, director of townhouses at The Corcoran Group,┬áJust don’t expect to get in on one with 10 of your friends. “Most landlords stay away from shares,” Wexler says. “They don’t want to have an “Animal House” going on.