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Goodbye Pandemic Deals: New Study Shows Manhattan Rents Are On The Rebound

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- If you're struggling to find affordable rent in New York City, specifically Manhattan, you're not alone.

A new study shows rents have rebounded, and as CBS2's Natalie Duddridge reports, pandemic deals are out, huge increases are in.

In September 2020, CBS2 employee Lauren Mennen got a deep pandemic discount on an apartment in the Financial District.

"It was the apartment of my dreams," she said. "This studio normally went for $2,800, I was told. They gave it to me for $1,700. And I was like, I can't say now, and the guy who showed it to me, he's like, 'We're just giving out apartments this week.'"

But this past December, when her lease expired, it was rental shock.

"I get the lease renewal. They want to raise it to $3,200. That's an 88% increase of what I was paying," Mennen said.

So Mennen decided to move.

"As I started my search, I would reach out on one day, and they would get back to me saying it's already gone," she said.

It's a trend tenants are experiencing across the city, but especially in Manhattan, where the month of December saw the highest rents ever, according to a new report by Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel Real Estate.

It shows last year in Manhattan, there was an 11% vacancy rate and 26,000 empty apartments.

Today, there's a 1.7% vacancy rate and fewer than 5,000 apartments.

"It's been a phenomenal drop in supply because there was a massive surge in demand as people began to come into the city in 2021 to rent after the vaccine option really began to ramp up," said Jonathon Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel, Inc.

Experts say the vaccine, low rents and the return to the office is what's bringing renters back.

"You had a feeling in the fall of 2020 that there would be 11 people left in Manhattan, and it was a silly premise. Now, we're trying to figure out what shape Manhattan looks like when this is brought under control," Miller said.

As for Mennen, she finally found a new place.

"I lost the doorman. I don't have a dishwasher. I don't have an AC unit, and it's a fourth floor walkup," she said.

But now she's paying more for less.

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