New York Pieds-à-Terre

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30 Responses

  1. Mike Schilling says:


    I know what you mean, but I can’t help thinking “Stairmasters”.Report

  2. Chris says:


    Ped-a-tears is me trying to make it up a steep Austin hill on my bike.Report

  3. Kazzy says:

    What you are describing is not subletting. Subletting is when one is renting an apartment him/herself and then rents that apartment out to another. Renting out an residence you own is simply renting it out. Certain buildings may still have rules or restrictions on that process.

    Honestly, Saul, for a post of such brevity, it really shouldn’t contain so many basic errors.Report

    • j r in reply to Kazzy says:

      It’s not so much @saul-degraw’s fault as it is that the original NYTimes article hopelessly confuses and conflates pied a tiers and investment properties.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to j r says:

        Eh… not really…

        “The agency determined that nearly one quarter of the apartments in New York City are not used as primary residences, serving either as pieds-à-terre or investment properties that are rented out to tenants.”

        ““Twenty-four percent of co-op and condo apartments citywide are not the primary residence of their owners,” said George V. Sweeting, the deputy director of the budget office, who oversaw the research. “Not all of these units are pieds-à-terre; many are likely owned by investors or original sponsors renting out the units.””


      • j r in reply to j r says:

        I would say that information is central enough to the article that it shouldn’t be in the 4th and 6th paragraph.

        Saul read it and wasn’t clear. And if you read the comments on the article, about half the people commenting don’t seem to grok the difference.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to j r says:

        They note a distinction in the second paragraph.

        Also, see my comment below regarding taxes, which I didn’t see brought up in the article but which seems like kind of a huge thing to consider when evaluating the validity of this data and, therefore, what it means.Report

      • j r in reply to j r says:

        Fine, let’s go back to blaming Saul.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to j r says:

        @j-r and @james-hanley are correct: I’ve been unnecessarily harsh and petty here. Poor showing on my part. My apologies. Should you choose to respond, I ask that you focus on my below comment about the impact of the city’s residency tax impacting how reporting of residence and dwelling usage go down.Report

    • James Hanley in reply to Kazzy says:


      Did you even see my Romney post?

      If so, I appreciate you giving me a pass for a far worse set of errors than Saul has committed.Report

  4. The one surprise is that many apartments are owned by middle-class people who moved to the suburbs or farther away.

    That doesn’t seem particularly surprising. I imagine one wouldn’t own a pied-a-terre (I had to look the word up) unless they lived in the suburbs or farther away. And I also imagine that someone would have to have at least a middle class income to own one. I’d be more surprised if they were owned by working-class people who lived in the city.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      Of course, there is middle class and “middle class”. The economics of most major cities — NYC in particular in my experience — make these descriptors incredibly difficult to pin down. If you own or rent multiple properties in the NY Metro area, you are almost assuredly not middle class in any meaningful sense of that word. You might be considered middle class — or consider yourself middle class — but you are almost certainly in the upper quintile of wealth/income on a national level.Report

      • Gabriel Conroy in reply to Kazzy says:


        I was probably being too pedantic. When I think “middle class,” I think of someone quite comfortable, probably what most people consider “upper middle class.” Which is fine for me to believe, of course, but if few others define it that way, then maybe I ought to think twice before I pounce on others’ different use of the word.Report

    • Chris in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      Also, why is that a surprise? If I owned property that I could easily rent out in Manhattan, say, I wouldn’t let it go either, even after I decided living in a city that big was no longer for me and I moved to Long Island or Westchester or wherever.Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Chris says:

        Good heavens yes – if you owned it free and clear, and didn’t have other obligations forcing you to stay in the USA, you could live very comfortably in a lot of countries on the rental income alone.Report

  5. Damon says:

    This doesn’t surprise me. If you’ve got a good income-for NYC-and have have moved the family out to the ‘burbs, it might make sense that you have a “crash pad” for the work week rather than enduring a long commute. This puts you in the wealthy enough category to be able to afford a place, but not wealthy enough to have your own helicopter or personal driver. You’re successful enough that you’re probably working more than 50 hours a week anyway so driving a long commute doesn’t make sense.Report

  6. North says:

    No surprise there. If you own a unit or have secured a rent restricted or rent controlled unit (whether through luck or through connections) you’re not going to release it or sell it once you’re done with it. One can always find a use for a place to lay one’s head in New York.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

      This is only true if most of the absentee owner units are rented. From what I gather, most of the empty but unavailable units are owned rather than rented.

      Like Saul said, in many New York apartments, your fellow owners can control who you rent to. This because you technically own stock in the building rather than a particular unit. This makes renting out a unit incredibly difficult.Report

      • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Agreed, it makes legally renting out an apartment very difficult.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Co-op boards are the home owner’s associations of the apartment world. They are an entirely different problem than rent control in that rent control is something that can be dealt with purely by government activity. Turning co-op apartments into condominium apartments is a lot more difficult because it deals with ownership rights. Co-ops aren’t really that common anymore though. Now most apatment buildings in NYC are built to be rent or condos.Report

      • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Oh yes, sorry I was a bit quick with that. I’m keenly aware of how rapidly co-ops are transforming into condos’ in NY. It’s a part of my own work.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Power over real estate seems like an important but at the same time lame super power. I doubt Broker Man is going to become a mega-hit anytime soon.Report

  7. Kazzy says:

    It is important to note that NYC charges a residence-based income tax. If you live in the city, you pay it… regardless of where you work. If you don’t live in the city, you don’t pay it… regardless of where you work. It matters not whether you rent or own… it simply matters whether or not you live in the city.

    I don’t know how the city handles partial-residency or secondary properties. This website indicates there is a separate form for “Part-year residents”:

    But it is very possible that many people do in fact live regularly or primarily in these units but simply claim otherwise for tax purposes. My siblings — both renters in the city at the time — continued to claim my mom’s house in NJ as their primary residence for tax purposes. I’d be curious how they would have been counted in such a survey.Report

  8. Burt Likko says:

    I couldn’t stand it anymore and fixed the title. Sorry, @saul-degraw .Report