NYC Sublet Listings in May and June Continue to Smash Records As Renters Look to Break their Apartment Leases

In mid-May we reported a massive spike in new NYC sublet listings through the first two weeks of the month. Based on RentHop’s apartment listing data running through the end of May and the first week of June, we can now confirm that total sublet listings are continuing to accelerate and set new records.

Combined with data from other sources such as The New York Times, this sudden spike in sublet listings may be considered early evidence the city is witnessing an outflow of residents to the suburbs or other metropolitan areas, likely as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this report, we’ll analyze the recent uptrend in new sublet listings on RentHop and highlight their outsized distribution in wealthy neighborhoods, particularly those in Manhattan1.


Sublet Listings Break Records in May


May 2020 saw a more than 110% increase in total sublet listings as compared to the total sublet listings of the previous month (April 2020). By contrast, May 2019 actually saw a 4% decline in total sublet listings as compared to the total sublet listings in April 2019. By all measures, May 2020 saw the greatest acceleration in new sublet listings we have ever recorded on RentHop.



Sublet Listings Continue to Set Records through the First Week of June


While sublet totals in May 2020 were off the charts, all signs are pointing to June seeing similar record-setting numbers. On Friday, June 5th, for example, renters created more sublet listings than on any other day in RentHop’s 11-year history.

Just as May 2020 saw a massive upward deviation from the average number of daily sublet listings in pre-pandemic months, the first week of June 2020 has seen 60% more daily sublet listings than the average daily total in 2020. By contrast, June 2019 only saw a 6% upward deviation from the average number of daily sublet listings in 2019.



Wealthy Neighborhoods Seeing the Largest Spike in Sublet Listings


In May 2020, every NYC borough saw an acceleration in new sublet listings, however, wealthy neighborhoods, particularly those in Manhattan, saw a steeper upward deviation from their 2020 average than other neighborhoods. In Chelsea, for instance, the number of sublets in May was four times more than in April. Similarly, in West Village, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in New York City, the number doubled in the past month.

The neighborhoods with the most significant spikes in new sublets in May were Chelsea (533% above average), Theater District (467%), Astoria (467%), Williamsburg (381%), Yorkville (360%), Battery Park City (320%), West Village (282%), Greenpoint (267%), Greenwich Village (200%), and the Financial District (185%).


1. As used in this study, “sublet listings” are listings created by apartment renters seeking to find a new tenant to take over the remainder of their apartment lease. In NYC, finding a subletter is widely considered the most effective way to get out from under a lease without paying the steep contractual penalties triggered by an outright lease break.

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