Rent A Home
Renting an apartment shouldn’t be difficult, but in NYC, I’d be lying if I said no renter has ever come up to me and told me that trying to find an apartment can be extremely complex and frustrating. I made this rental guide to help prepare you for your rental search to the best of my ability.
Please note that the fees, security deposits, and incentives buildings offer have likely changed since 2019 due to real estate laws and COVID-19, so please reach out to me to get up to date information on the rental market. The last thing I want is for you to be misinformed. Why is it so difficult anyways? First off, depending on what season it is, an apartment might only be on the market for a few days, or maybe even just a few hours. Because of this, there is a lot of competition for each unit.
Have Your Paperwork Ready
I’ve had several clients in the past who did not have their paperwork ready until they saw an apartment they wanted to put an application on. This despite me telling them over and over to get everything together. While you might be able to get away with this, I STRONGLY recommend you don’t wait until you start looking at apartments. There’s nothing worse than missing out on the apartment of your dreams because you weren’t prepared.
What does the paperwork entail?
Before we get into that, please keep in mind each management and building has its own rules, so this is all just a generalization. Always check with your broker and/or the management to see what the exact requirements are so you have a complete understanding as to how to get approved and move into your new home.
In general, here’s what you’ll need:
Bank Statements (Both Checkings and Savings)
Employment Letter on Company Letterhead with annual income
Tax Returns - the last two years
A landlord reference letter
If you are an independent contractor or sole proprietor, then you may need a CPA letter as well
If you are applying to a condo or co-op rental, they may ask for additional information.
Generally speaking, the person or persons applying for the apartment must earn a yearly salary of at least 40-50 times the monthly rent combined. If using a guarantor -- someone who would be responsible for the payment of your lease should you default -- they must be making over 75-90 times the monthly rent combined. The guarantors almost always have to be in the United States, and sometimes they need to be within the tri-state area to be eligible to be used as a guarantor for the apartment.
Also, you need to have good credit. I cannot stress this enough.
If you fall short with income or credit requirements, you may have to pay a certain amount of months up front which is applied to your rent or security. Some buildings may not even give you this option, especially when it comes to poor credit.
Understand What Is Important About Your New Apartment
These are some questions you may want to consider:
When do you need to move by? Do you have any flexibility?
How much are you willing and able to spend?
Location. Location. Location! What is it about your potential location that is important to you? Is it night life, available transportation, or proximity to work, friends or family?
Do you have pets? What type and how much do they weigh?
What amenities do you need in the building? Do you need an elevator and doorman? What about a roofdeck and a gym? Perhaps you just need laundry in the building or maybe it’s important that you get lots of light and have a great view!
Do you need the building to allow walls or partitions? In New York City it is not uncommon to have more than one person living in a one bedroom apartment. When brokers refer to a flex or convertible apartment, it means that 1 or more extra bedrooms are being created by using a partition.
Hire A Broker
Brokers have access to several more listings than a typical renter, are familiar with the managements and understand what it takes to get their clients approved for an apartment. With that comes a fee that may range between $50 to 15 percent of the annual rent. You have to talk to your broker about the fee as it may vary.
Fill Out The Application And Submit Your Paperwork… Quickly
Some managements will have you print out applications and fill them out, some will give you the applications in person, and others have you fill them out online. Whatever the case is, make sure you fill out the application and submit all necessary documents as soon as possible. Some managements might take the property off the market if you send partial information in, depending on how the market is, but others will keep showing the apartment until they have all necessary information. If you followed step 1, then you should be ahead of the game.
With the application, make sure you include the length of your term (generally 1 or 2 years), when you would like to move in, and what your monetary offer is. If the apartment is listed for $7,500, I wouldn’t advise putting an offer in for $2,000.
Waiting For The Landlord To Approve, Reject Or Give Stipulations
If your credit is strong, the leaseholders meet the income requirements, your move-in date is reasonable according to the management and you applied for the apartment at a price close to the asking amount, then you should be approved without any issues. But if not, the management may reject your application or say you are approved under certain conditions such as having a different move-in date, or getting a guarantor if you didn’t have one already.
Lease Signing - Bring Checks
Generally speaking, at a lease signing you will need to bring a minimum of the first month’s rent and one month security in the form of a bank certified check. Do not bring a personal check. Also, if there is a broker fee, you will be paying the fee at this time as well, unless the broker said otherwise.
You might need movers, a place to buy furniture, an interior designer, or other things to get your apartment looking at its finest. If you need me to put you in touch with someone, please feel free to reach out at [email protected] and I can give you references.
So let’s go over everything again very quickly…
Step 1 - Have your paperwork ready
Step 2 - Understand what is important about your new apartment
Step 3 - Hire A Broker
Step 4 - Fill Out the Application and Submit Your Paperwork… Quickly
Step 5 - Waiting for the Landlord to Approve, Reject or Give Stipulations
Step 6 - Lease Signing - Bring checks
Step 7 - Move In
If you got to this point, congratulations! You have found your new home! This is a very exciting time for you!
Great Real Estate Tips
What Is Amortized or Net Rent?
Net effective rent or amortized rent is calculated by dividing the total rent you have to pay (after discount) over the term of the lease by total months in the lease.
Co-Op Financial Requirements in NYC
Co-op financial requirements in NYC are stricter than the requirements for buying a condo and you might need to save much more than the usual 20% for down payment, to meet the financial requirement for a co-op board.
What Do Renters In NYC Need To Know About Security Deposit?
As a renter in NYC, you need to understand how much security deposit your landlord is allowed to ask for and what your rights are when it comes to getting it back.