New York City, rooms for rent. Scam?
September 25, 2008 5:38 PM   Subscribe

New York City, rooms for rent on craigslist by agencies. Scam? ($125 Rent starting at: $125/ Weekly or $500/ Monthly)


My roommate wants me to move out ASAP. My roommate might actually have developed some kind of bipolar disorder. Nothing dangerous, just erratic, unpredictable and strange behavior in intervals. Since I have to move out now (again, my roommate might chance her mind about this quickly) I need a place to stay. I don't want to commit long term since I might leave the city or even the US because of a job change.


On Craigslist I see rooms for rent by agencies with titles like:
"$125 Rent starting at: $125/ Weekly or $500/ Monthly"

The room are very convenient located for my current job but they charge a US$ 150 "showing fee", no matter if you take the room or not. This sounds strange to me. Ham or Scam?

Did anyone ever try these room agencies?
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If they're charging to show the place, then they will make a lot more showing it to even one person a day than having someone rent it for $500 a month, so there's no incentive to ever rent it to anyone.

Find a short-term sublet.
posted by Airhen at 5:49 PM on September 25, 2008

Haven't tried one myself, but it certainly smells like a scam. Rental guide complaints. Worth checking out with Better Business Bureau - New York.
posted by Paragon at 5:55 PM on September 25, 2008

The showing fee makes is sound like a shady boarding house situation. The weekly set ups like these in Philly are generally in sketch neighborhoods and really intended more for people without the credit or resources to take on a year long lease. There's a lot of people working under the table, paying rent with sporadic illegal income, addicts holing up short term and binging, mentally ill street folks taking to the indoors for the winter, etc. They certainly make for colorful living arrangements if you have the stomach for that kind of thing but I wouldn't recommend it to the working crowd.

Also, consider this: ten years ago I left grad school in NYC, started working and in the meantime was dead broke and needed a place to flop. I stayed in the Jane Street Hotel in the West Village for a rugged stretch of a couple months. That came to more than $125 a week back then, and for a room so small you could put your palms on opposite walls at the same time. Oh, and with prostitutes working out of the room next door. And a shared bathroom where people would routinely shit on the floor. That kind of thing.
posted by The Straightener at 6:04 PM on September 25, 2008

Since I moved to New York in 2005, I've lived the entire time in rooms rented out by these places.

I used two different agencies. The first went out of business (while holding my 120 dollar deposit). The second still exists. It's at 145th and Broadway just west of the intersection on the south side of the street. Those folks didn't hold my deposit, the person I rented from did.

The way it usually works is that you pay the fee to get access to their listings and then they send you out to meet people. Yeah, you won't be on Park Avenue, but I've paid a lot less money then other folks I know to live in New York over the last three, almost four years. And it's not an SRO like The Straightener describes.

I've lived in Hamilton Heights... the neighborhood isn't perfect, but it's rapidly gentrifying.
posted by Jahaza at 7:34 PM on September 25, 2008

My ex-husband spent a year in New York living in a place owned by Hare Krishna's in - I want to say - the Village or maybe Brooklyn? It was like living at the Y according to him - you shared a bathroom, but I think he had a private room. There were no amenities like kitchen, etc. They never tried to convert him and he liked that it was quiet all the time. Sorry I can't give you more info than that right now but that might be enough for you to find it. If not -- memail me privately and I'll ask him for the scoop (don't want to call at 11:00 without some child bleeding).
posted by katyjack at 7:54 PM on September 25, 2008

They want $150 just to see the place? Are you seriously doubting this being a scam?
posted by qvtqht at 8:04 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Folks, if you haven't used roommate sharing agencies in New York, or don't know how they work you're not qualified to answer this question. Yes, there is an upfront fee. Then they send you out to meet people.

Here's an article in the New York Times that talks about the upfront fee. That article's from 1986 and they were charging $125 dollars. It's not unreasonable that the fee has gone up to $150 since then. And $125-150 is about what I've paid when I've used similar services to find satisfactory living situations over the past four years.
posted by Jahaza at 10:04 PM on September 25, 2008

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