Co-living is an arrangement by which a landlord rents an apartment to a group of tenants, for at least thirty days, where the tenants occupy and share the apartment as roommates, an arrangement which the landlord consents to and facilitates as an active participant. The tenants have flexible terms, which are often short, and are allowed to vacate the apartment early without liability for the full term of the lease. If a roommate is lost, the landlord assists the remaining tenants with getting a qualified new roommate to take the lost roommate’s place and gives the remaining tenants rent-relief while doing so. The landlord frequently provides the tenants with other advantages and amenities, including but not limited to furnishings and personal property, services, and thematic programing, such as dinners or lectures on topics of common interest to the roommates. Co-living places a big emphasis on the creation of a community within the apartment. The price per square foot for the apartment is often higher than it would be if the same apartment was not rented for co-living. The advantages of co-living for the tenant are affordability, flexibility, convenience, limited liability for bad roommates, and community. The advantage of co-living to a landlord is a higher price per square foot and greater control of the occupants of an apartment.

Michelle Itkowitz has been a pioneer in the New York City co-living space. Please read one of her recent booklets on co-living in NYC. At any given time, Michelle has about a dozen NYC co-living clients. Some are big, some are small; some refer to what they are doing as “co-living” and some do not; some are property managers, some are owner-operators, some are neither; some get venture capital, some are self-funded; some are creating their co-living spaces around special themes. Some are local and some are in multiple cities (although Michelle is only qualified to consult re NYC properties).

Michelle offers co-living consulting packages, which typically include:

  • Michelle will help your whole team (from the founders to the people on the front lines doing tech development, advertising, leasing, and management), understand that it is simply not legal to rent rooms in NYC, and that there are grave consequences therefor. Michelle helps you understand what you can do, and how to implement alternatives to illegal activity, while attempting to still deliver value to your clients.
  • Michelle helps you evaluate acquisitions. You cannot, obviously, do co-living in Rent Stabilized apartments. Co-living is about fluidity and flexibility. Rent Stabilization is about stability and tenant’s rights. Just because a building presents as having under 6-units or appears to have been rehabilitated after 1974, doesn’t make it deregulated. See Michelle’s booklet on illegally deregulated apartments. In light of the Statewide Tenant Protection Act of 2019, such illegally deregulated apartments will become even more vulnerable. The goal of this aspect of the consulting package would be to get your acquisitions team to a point of basic proficiency, so you can ask the right questions, as opposed to having brokers lie to you and waste your transactional lawyers time on due diligence.
  • Michelle can draft a co-living lease for you, fix your current lease if it is not too badly broken, and/or help you with leasing procedures, from intake through transferring a tenant out.
  • This package does not include any litigation services. If you have tenants you need to sue or if you are getting sued by an over-landlord or the City, that’s a separate conversation.

Also of interest – two recent articles and a podcast, each where Michelle is being interviewed about co-living: