Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Year: 1922 Gripe: $35/mo Studio apartment raised to $150/mo

1922: Artists ask DA to probe studio rentals
Artist George Bellows
Artist George Bellows
An influential group of American artists asked the New York District Attorney to investigate landlords who were renting artists’ studios to “pseudo artists and loose living people,” 92 years ago this month.
The League of American Artists, which included important painters such as George Bellows and Robert Henri, cited a survey that found that 70 percent of the studios in Manhattan were occupied by people of “questionable character,” with the problem particularly acute in Greenwich Village and Columbus Circle.
Meanwhile, artists were being forced out of Manhattan to Brooklyn, the Bronx and to other states. The group estimated that of about 14,000 studios in Manhattan, about 10,000 were rented to “fake” artists.
One building that had undergone the change was Hotel des Artistes, a 17-story building at 1 West 67th Street (now a cooperative building) where most of the tenants were no longer artists.
“Real estate agents are booming the studio idea. And stressing the so-called ‘free life’ of artists to such an extent that bona-fide artists are being denied renewals,” the New York Times quoted the artist Julian Bowes as saying.
Bowes said in one instance a studio that had been rented to an artist for $35 per month a few years earlier was raised to $150 per month by a landlord whose motto was, “No questions asked.”

Sunday, September 21, 2014

AptStar: Revolutionizing the Rental Experience for Renters in Manhattan/Brooklyn

The process of renting an apartment in New York City is overwhelming even for seasoned renters. “After spending numerous weeks wasting my time with bait and switch broker tactics, no show meetings and discovering that certain landlords have notoriously bad reputations it became obvious that I needed help. I reached out to Kirby Sommers’ AptStar service and am so grateful that I did,” states financial services specialist Chris Lautenslager who has been renting in Manhattan for over 8 years.
Kirby Sommers has been revolutionizing the way renters find apartments with her eGuides called Landlord Links since 2005. The best selling guides are similar to Zagat books with the added bonus of having hyperlinks which renters click on to see apartment listings offered directly by landlords and management companies.
Mr. Lautenslager adds: ”AptStar identified an apt for me that was literally perfect! This took only 1 day to view listings as opposed to a constant scramble of phone calls, texts, e-mails and meetings. The time I saved was in itself worth the modest one time cost. But the fact that I now have a beautiful no-fee apartment from a solid landlord confirmed that it was one of the best investments I could make.”
Kirby Sommers has recently upgraded a personal service she offers via her LandlordLinks.Net website called AptStar by adding more specialists to handle the overwhelming amount of requests from apartment seekers for help.
While most listings provide only the minimal information on apartments, the unique AptStar service allows apartment hunters to use terms like “eclectic, really sunny, kid-friendly, and every imaginable description along with the most desirable tag words any Manhattan bound renter can mutter: “no broker’s fee.”
In addition to saving renters on broker fees AptStar also ensures clients shine like superstars on paper and ace their interview with the landlord thus eliminating stiff competition and also helps them from making costly rental mistakes.
No other rental service offers honest service to renters in the city. Craigslist is full of bait and switch broker posing as owner listings. And, Streeteasy, which was supposed to make renting an apartment easier, is full of random brokers with no guarantee of honest service or the no fee promise.
Ms. Sommers believes AptStar is the only way to solve the dysfunctional nature of the apartment rental market in New York City. “When someone uses AptStar, they’re getting a great rental experience, along with the right apartment, which means we’ve made a customer for life or for as long as they continue to rent in the city.”
Additional information can be found on our website: LandlordLinks.Net

LandlordLinks.Net Launches 'Hate Us On Yelp' Campaign

Kirby Sommers, founder of the popular website LandlordLinks.Net, is launching a “Hate Us On Yelp” campaign.
Ms. Sommers was inspired by Botto Bistro, a California based restaurant, who is actively campaigning to be the worst rated restaurant on the consumer review website.
Like Botto Bistro, LandlordLinks.Net has been claiming for years that their reviews have been hidden and in some cases completely deleted from Yelp in an attempt to get the company to advertise with them.
Sommers states: “When my clients asked if I would like them to place reviews on YELP, I initially agreed. Only after I saw review by review filtered and removed, did I start to think that perhaps the phone call I had received from Yelp’s advertising department where I declined to become an advertiser may have played a significant role in the removal of all of my reviews.”
With a simple google search, Sommers discovered she wasn’t the only small business with similar complaints against the behemoth Yelp. Apparently, small to mid-sized businesses across the country have been complaining about Yelp’s alleged bad behavior for years.
Sommers states that when she received yet another call from a sales representative who only used a first name asking her again to advertise, the salesperson added: “There will never be a customer service department at Yelp, but advertising might be beneficial with your issues.” In other words: “Advertise with us because that’s the only solution to your problem.”
Yelp started doing business by aggregating business names on their website. When the owner of the business found their way to the unsolicited page, the website would have ‘Claim Your Business’ as a way to line up prospective advertisers. A side note: A court recently ruled that Yelp has the power to manipulate reviews.
This is how both LandlordLinks.Net and Kirby Sommers’ personal name ended up on Yelp. And since Yelp hasn’t responded to Sommers’ request that both pages be deleted, she is content to offer up free Landlord Links (which help apartment seekers bypass brokers by connecting them directly to landlords’ apartment listings pages) in exchange for really bad reviews.
Carey Fox, President of Stealth Pictures, is a Landlord Links user. His review:
‘Landlord Links... How horrible of them to want to save renters money! Whole idea stinks. Get set up with all the “inside” info you need to score a great NYC apartment, and then? Rental nirvana? Who needs that? All outside the lines of the tried and true broker and fee tradition? We’re New Yorkers! We’re just going to keep trolling craigslist to find a bait and switch apartment like the rest of my smart New York City friends!’
Just give LandlordLinks.Net one star. Get 1 Free Landlord Links or do it for free. Better yet, do it to take a stance against unfair business practices.
And, if you’re going to give LandlordLinks.Net a one star review Kirby would want you to be as snarky as you can! “If we can’t trust Yelp and its reviews, let’s at least use Yelp for entertainment purposes.”

My Post on Yelp about their Unethical Business Practives REMOVED by Yelp, Kirby Sommers

Hi my name is Kirby Sommers and both my name (because I am a New York based real estate broker) and my business LandlordLinks.Net were both aggregated by YELP and included on their unethical website.

When my clients asked if I would like them to place reviews on YELP, I initially agreed. Only after I saw review by review FILTERED and REMOVED, did I start to think that perhaps the phone call I had received from YELP's advertising department where I declined to become an advertiser -- may have played a significant role in the removal of all of my reviews.

I have attempted to contact YELP several times about this issue. To no avail. The response is an automated email with no real answers about anything.

Today I received a phone call from YELP. Believing that they were perhaps calling about my problems (which btw have significantly affected by businesses)...the woman who only used a first name told me "no, she was calling because she was on my page ... and wanted me to advertise with them..

I WAS SO ANGRY. REPEAT, SO ANGRY. And so despite the fact that she COULDN'T do anything about the issue -- she had me repeat my lengthy battle with YELP -- to the point where I had to leave my office and take a walk to CALM DOWN !!!

During the conversation she told me: "There will NEVER be a customer service department at Yelp." She then wanted me to go to their website and watch a 10 minute video. 

YELP, I don't want to watch a 10 minute video, I want you to MANUALLY REINSTALL my reviews. All taken down because YOU ARE ATTEMPTING TO EXTORT money from me. 

Additionally, every client I have sent to your website has had to create an account in order to post a review. YOU ARE NOW CONTACTING all of my clients FOR YOUR OWN benefit !!

How dare you!!

If you are not going to reinstate my reviews -- the REMOVE MY NAME AND MY COMPANY NAME FROM YOUR FRAUDULENT WEBSITE !!!

Kirby Sommers

I posted this on their site a couple of years ago. Today another review has been HIDDEN. Nice work, Yelp.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

AptStar Program: One couple's quest to find the perfect no fee rental in New York City, by Kirby Sommers

I agreed to help a friend (couple) of a former AptStar client. So, a referral. The couple lived abroad. Their requested budget was way below market rate for the long list of amenities they wanted.

Additionally, they were adamant in not wanting to spend a dime above what they thought they could find. When one of them arrived, I sent him out on his own, with a handful of carefully selected apartments anyone else would have killed for.

They were all with great landlords.

There were all priced just below market (which is what he wanted).

And they were all available just around the corner (October 1st) – which was miraculous of me to find.

Oh…and of course, they were all being shown by brokers for their standard 15% fee – which this couple didn’t have to pay.

On his first day out (remember I only send people out in ONE DAY); he told me he wouldn’t see 2 out of the 6 apartments because they were “further north” than where he wanted to live.

These were beautiful apartments. Spacious. And well priced. This post has pictures of one of those apartments.

But no, he passed on these gems.

On the second day, he decided to find apartments through Craigslist and other sources.

By the middle of that day he told me he’d found a wonderful place.

I clicked on the link of the apartment he’d found and ran a background check on both the owner and the building.

The new renovations were completely botched. There were electrical problems, there were plumbing problems, and aside from a multitude of other issues, there existed a life threatening hazardous issue in the building. The owner, wanting to save money, had his super working on the gas lines without proper permits. The whole building can, at any time, just blow up.

This issue has not been corrected. Further the owner is a new developer with a terrible reputation as a landlord.

I told SOME of this to my client(s); who then proceeded to question why I was so against them finding a place of their own.

I politely told him I was happy to give him the name of the owner and if he wanted to rent the apartment, he would be doing so against my advice.

In the end, he relented and then, on the third and final day, he got back on schedule and went to see one of the places I found for him.

When he called me to tell me he liked the place I was thrilled. Three days is a long time to help someone day by day (after putting in a ton of time previous to the actual search date).

He stated: “I am going to ask the landlord to push the wall out about 6 inches…”

I stopped him cold.

I told him this was New York City.

There are 20 maybe 30 other people who are going to be happy to take the apartment the way it is. (With another apartment, he said he wanted to ask the landlord to “renovate” the bathroom for him).

I pointed out that he already had some liabilities on his side.

He was from another country.

He didn’t have a Social Security card.

He didn’t have any credit history in the United States.

And, his girlfriend hadn’t arrived; which would make it a little more difficult to get approved.

I breathed a sigh of relief when he acquiesced and applied for the apartment without the “moving of the wall” request.

He got accepted and signed a lease.

I just received his REVIEW and it states in part: “it takes more than the ONE day it normally takes, but….”

Well, I just want to say, it would have taken ONE DAY for him as well; if he had just followed my instructions.


For information of my APTSTAR PROGRAM:

Hate Us On Yelp and Receive One Free Landlord Links!

Hate us on Yelp Campaign
Join us in our Hate Us On Yelp campaign (inspired by Botto Bistro's fabulous idea) and receive ONE (1) Free Landlord Links (neighborhood only, excludes Special Editions or other boroughs). 

Just write a ONE STAR review for LandlordLinks.Net on Yelp poking fun at us for thinking we can get you a no fee rental apartment through our landlord directories or our AptStar Program. 

Make it hilarious. 

Poke fun at us. 

Tell the world what a horrible company we have been to help renters save money on broker fees since 2006. How terrible of us to save you from going nuts on Craigslist by chasing bait & switch ads and non-responsive brokers.

Tell the world how you LOVE to pay those brokers 15% of your hard earned money just for them to open the front door of an apartment for you. 

Use humor, imagination and sarcasm! Be snarky! 

We will REWARD YOU with one FREE Landlord Links (which you can use to find a REAL NO FEE APARTMENT - even those shown by brokers for a FAT FEE). 

REDEEM YOUR FREE Landlord Links by sending us an email via our contact us page with link to your review and your desired Landlord Links. 


We want to follow Botto Bistro's lead and expose Yelp's unethical business practices of attempting to extort money from small and medium sized businesses. (Sidenote: A judge recently ruled that Yelp has the power to manipulate reviews which makes YELP's reviews untrustworthy.)

So come on already, Hate Us On Yelp! We're fed up with Yelp's blackmailing attempts by hiding or removing our reviews to get us to advertise with them.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Upper West Side Studio Apartment Converted into a One Bedroom. Ugh !

Ridiculous apartment for the day: A STUDIO CONVERTED into a ONE BEDROOM on the Upper West Side! Asking $2,225/mo (!!) and marketed by landlord as:

Stunning Renovated large 1BRPrime location completely renovated with great closets hard wood floors and high ceilings.

Landlord puts up a wall in the middle of what was a studio apartment and expects people to believe this is a one bedroom apartment. Tragic.


For a real one bedroom apartment, without broker fees, visit: