Sandy refugees flood Bay Ridge

Hurricane Sandy victims from the Rockaways, Breezy Point, and Staten Island are looking to Bay Ridge for sanctuary — but neighborhood realtors say they don’t have enough open houses for the glut of new residents.

“There’s been a tremendous influx in the demand for Bay Ridge rentals since the hurricane,” said Joseph Hamdan of Coldwell Banker Reliable Real Estate at the corner of 75th Street and Fifth Avenue. “Bay Ridge is close to the water but doesn’t have the exposure of some of the more affected neighborhoods.”

Others say many Rockaway residents are ex-Ridgites trying to return home following the disaster — with mixed success.

“They worked hard and they did well and they bought a house on the beach. And now it’s gone,” said Renee Winnicki of Jabour Realty on Third Avenue near 87th Street, who said that a woman who sold her Bay Ridge home two years ago returned to her office shortly after Sandy wiped out her house in Breezy Point.

But realtors say because of the poor economy, most apartment tenants are staying put. Facing a low vacancy rate, realty agents are desperately looking for available apartments.

“We know all the building owners, and they’re telling us nothing’s available,” said Winnicki. “It makes me sick because there’s nothing we can do for a lot of these people.”

Other realtors say that there are few Bay Ridge apartments that will fit expanded families.

“They’re coming from big houses, families of six or seven people and maybe two pets,” said Urszula Pedziwiater of Alpine Realty at the corner of 84th Street and Fifth Avenue. “They want a three-bedroom apartment or a house to rent, and we don’t have that.”

Pedziwiater said another problem is that the Hurricane Sandy victims want to rent month-to-month since they don’t know how long it will be before they can return to their flooded home — and most landlords want tenants to sign year-long leases.

“My advice is they should sign one-year leases, and then if they go back, talk to the owners and see if they can’t break the lease,” Pedziwiater recommended.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WillBredderman

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