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Bushwick One-Bedrooms Increasingly Homes for Two

By Meredith Hoffman | March 17, 2012 2:54pm
Rents are down for Bushwick studios as tenants opt to split  one-bedroom apartments.
Rents are down for Bushwick studios as tenants opt to split one-bedroom apartments.
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DNAinfo/Meredith Hoffman

BUSHWICK—One bedroom for one person? Think again.

Young singles in Bushwick are increasingly opting to share a one-bedroom apartment with another roommate, some realtors say.

As many as half of the Bushwick one bedrooms rented by one company, MNS Real Estate, are rented to two people who place makeshift partitions in the space, said the group's CEO Andrew Barrocas.

Prices of one bedrooms jumped about 25% from July to January in Bushwick, according to a report by his company that charts prices for apartments in all Brooklyn neighborhoods. Even as other Bushwick rental prices have dropped with winter, a usual seasonal drop, Barrocas said, one bedrooms have continued to take off.

The average one-bedroom rental price increased from $1333 in July to $1671 in February, according to the report. Meanwhile, rents for studios have fluctuated in price since the July average of $1312 and by February had fallen 5 percent to $1250.

Barrocas explained that renters' main motivation was saving money as young singles flood the neighborhood that has become a haven for artists, musicians, galleries and restaurants despite its gritty past that included waves of crime, extensive looting during the 1977 blackout - and more recently, the shooting of Police Officer Kevin Brennan.

"Two younger renters are taking a one bedroom and converting it by putting up a wall somewhere," Barrocas said. "They might be getting priced out of other areas, like Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

"Sometimes you don't get as much light and air in the rooms but there are ways to work around that, like with glass partitions."

Tenants and landlords must be careful, however, when adjusting these spaces, because certain alterations to the apartments are illegal without consent from the Department of Buildings.

"Permits from the Department need to be obtained in order to build a wall," said Ryan Fitzgibbons, a spokeswoman for the agency. "In order to obtain a permit for said work, the building owner needs to hire an architect or engineer to file plans with the Department and obtain the necessary permits."

And the FDNY website warns that additional units build outside code "often lack adequate means of egress, proper windows and ventilation, and have illegal and unsafe gas, electrical and plumbing systems."

Barrocas said the alterations he encouraged tenants to make were within legal standards.

A broker with Bushwick Realty Group, Martin Rubin, said that as far as prices were concerned, he had seen them continue to rise in all types of dwellings.

"The housing stock is more one bedrooms than studios," he said.  "I haven't seen a decrease in prices at all."