New business aims to find sublets for students in Stuyvesant Town

Lucas Chu of NY College Rentals

Lucas Chu of NY College Rentals

By Sabina Mollot

While many longtime residents of Stuyvesant Town would be quick to argue that there are enough college students living in the community already, one entrepreneur is hoping to become the go-to person for students seeking a sublet at the property and said he’s arranged a few sublets already.

Lucas Chu, 27, has set up a website, nycollegerentals.com, aiming to connect would be subletters with residents looking to rent out their apartments for two to six month periods throughout Manhattan. However he’s currently pushing to do more in Stuy Town and the East Village, in particular Stuy Town due to its popularity with NYU students.

“I want to make that area my focus,” Chu told Town & Village on Tuesday. He’s found the sublets there and other neighborhoods south of Harlem through online listings, but said recently tenants and would-be subletters have also begun reaching out to him. “I want to represent more apartments in Stuy Town; there’s a lot of interest from NYU students,” he said. “So far I’ve handled three. I want to do more.”

The way it usually works is, after a tenant expresses interest, “I come over and assess the apartment. I take photos, I put up a listing,” Chu said. Listings go on real estate websites like Trulia and Streeteasy.

The service is free to the tenant offering the apartment, while the student pays a fee of 13.5 percent of what the rent costs each month of the stay. In order to comply with the illegal hotels law, which says residential units can’t be rented out for stays of 30 days or less, he’s made a point to make the arrangements a minimum of two months. Sublets can be for up to two years.

Chu, in his online bio, said he used to work for the Corcoran Group but recently branched out on his own and that he learned about working in real estate, including property management, from his father.

He’s been arranging sublets over the past year, he said, noting that some people just don’t want to get locked into a one or two-year lease. He also currently runs a commercial video production company called Melty Cone. His real estate website went up about six months ago, though this week, it attracted the attention of the Stuyvesant Town Report Blog for its push to get residents to sublet.

When told by this reporter about how the growth of the student population in recent years has also coincided with an increase in quality of life complaints from longterm tenants, usually of rowdy behavior and excess noise, Chu said, “There’s always anger when change happens. I guess I’ll do my research.”

When asked for CW’s thoughts about the new subletting service, Brian Moriarty, a spokesperson for the owner, said while management had no relationship to the company, it wouldn’t be CW’s place to tell Chu not to market a legal service to residents.

On his website, Chu notes that NYU “recommends our real estate services to all their students.”

However, a spokesperson for NYU, when questioned by T&V, said that isn’t exactly correct, although NYCollege Rentals is mentioned on the university’s website on a page offering information to students to aid in their apartment searches. NYU spokesperson Philip Lentz, said, “The site is listed among other sites in our resources for students. It’s not an endorsement.”

The mention of NY College Rentals also notes that NYU students get a discount on the broker fee though the company isn’t affiliated with NYU. NYU’s website also says that there are around 250 graduate students living in Stuyvesant Town in apartments leased through the school.

7 thoughts on “New business aims to find sublets for students in Stuyvesant Town

  1. More transients. More wear and tear on the already deteriorating infrastructure (resulting in more MCIs for real tenants). More risk of crime. More slobs who don’t know how or where to recycle. More noise and disturbance. More lowering of the quality of life.
    Yeah, this is a great place to live, especially for the suckers forking over several thousand dollars a month for the privilege. Why not just turn the place into a hostel and call it what it is?
    Do our “Tenants” Association and Councilman and Assemblyman give a flying you-know-what about this?

  2. Thanks Sabina for bringing this to attention. The statements from PCVST management Mr Moriarity and NYU spokesperson Lentz are cause for alarm. We need a reporter to ask more questions

    There are serious safety and infrastructure issues being ignored.

    Are subletters Mr Chu brings in reported, registered or listed anywhere with the Property Management or the Landlord?
    Are subletters Mr Chu brings in reported, registered or listed anywhere with Public Safety at PCVST Security or NYU Security?
    Are subletters given key cards for the lobby doors?
    Are short term subletters key cards deactivated when they depart?
    If subletters commit crimes during their stay is there a way to find them? Can the NYPD 13th precinct track them down following their short term stay after they have departed?
    Are we safe in the elevators with strangers living in the buildings for short term stays?
    Can we let our kids who finally reached age to go to school on their own, get on the elevators trapped with short term strangers where there once were neighbors we knew?
    Are PCVST residents alerted to the strangers on their floor or are we putting our lives at risk each time we enter and exit our apartments that some stranger isn’t going to force their way into our apartments behind us?
    Who is monitoring the names of the subletters and duration of stay to make sure they are real people staying the duration required by the law and not fake names that allow multiple people to stay for shorter durations by having them check in and check out as even a Hotel does for security purposes?
    Are our children safe when Management allows strangers to reside in neighboring apartments without their names posted on the apartment door, or listed on the lobby floor, and such?
    This seems dangerous and negligent. Hotels have better security of who comes and goes. Flea bag Motels are probably safer.

    This is just some of the Safety concerns of the families in PCVST.

    Lastly, perhaps a reporter can ask NYU spokesperson Philip Lentz to go on record with the total number of NYU students at present living in PCVST apartments and in totality since 2007.
    The wording of “leased through the school” is troubling and telling. How many apartments occupied by NYU students are through alternative leasing arrangements designed to hide the real number of students living in PCVST in wall-divided dorms who were specifically told not to put their residence hall on their mail?
    The statement in the article repeating a fact on the website is not credible and too easily denied as an error on an outdated site or many other ways.
    PCVST Residents need a reporter to ask NYU on the record and get to the bottom of this.

    • It’s hard to believe that this used to be a place where people were on a waiting list to get in and were thoroughly vetted before being allowed to rent here. Now, it’s a No-Tell Motel/SRO/Dorm/Hostel.
      Keep your doors doubled locked, folks. Maybe we are going back to the days when it was customary for New York women to carry mace, though the menaces were OUTSIDE, not flopping here.

  3. Understanding that the only constant in life is change… I understand why some ST residents are concerned. Of course, the genesis of this problem is when MetLife decided to join the ranks of greed and went “luxury.” But. what bothers me as well is lumping all NYU students into a monolithic group. Each student is an individual.

  4. I don’t get why people are so up in arms about this – people have been subletting in NY for ages regardless of Mr. Chu’s involvement. It’s not the source of safety issues, it’s just something people do!

  5. I firmly believe Subletting is a serious safety issue. Thankfully it is the law for landlords to keep records and names of all subletees.

    PCVST tenants should know if record keeping laws are followed in widespread practice of PCVST short term sublets especially when a business’s stated goal is to maximize the quantity of sublets in PCVST and management says “it wouldn’t be CW’s place to tell Chu not to market a legal service to residents”.

    There are per apartment limits, up to 2 years within any 4 year period which help control Stranger Traffic. Sublettees have rights too.

    Rules, Rights, and Laws are found on these links:
    http://www.nycrgb.org/html/resources/faq/subletting.html
    http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/FactSheets/orafac7.htm

    Recent years of PCVST thefts and lax policies and practices with our apartment door keys (which they say have now tightened), and reports of kids scared by strangers, workers entering apartments unannounced, tenants have cause for concern whether PCVST management policies and practices strictly adhere to rules, regulations and laws on all matters that effect our family’s safety. These our are kids we are protecting. It is not unreasonable to question the PCVST subletting practices. It should be done by every one of us parents.

    With strong incentives like collecting 10% premium on sublets, high turnover renting to students for semesters that add up to less than a year, recent highly unbelievable high velocity of rent-stabilized-turned-market-rate apartments; oversight is needed assuring residents are kept safe, residents and subletees are not overcharged.

    Every parent should question the landlord’s subletting policies, practices and record keeping of the names of who is living next door for a day, a weekend, a week, month, year or two.

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