Finding and renting an apartment in New York City has its challenges, but if you keep an open mind, this task won’t be as daunting. Before you start your apartment search, you should keep in mind that New York City’s real estate market plays by its’ own rules. Typically, apartments are only listed 30-60 days in advance. You should also expect to spend anywhere from three days all the way up to four weeks on your search.

Leading up to your impending hunt, you can check online listings to get a feel for what’s out there, look at different neighborhoods to find one that fits your needs, and review market data, so you can be ready and confident when your search begins.

Preparedness is key when apartment hunting in New York City. While there are a variety of factors you should consider when entering the rental market, the most important is managing your expectations. The newer the apartment and appliances, along with the nearness to conveniences, all determine how much rent will be. Also, the neighborhood and buildings with an elevator and doorman all increase the monthly rent. Remaining open, and knowing your apartment must-haves, will help in your search.

Must-Ask Questions

When searching for and leasing the right apartment, you need to make sure you ask questions. Here is a list of questions to ask, for a more comprehensive list visit here:

  • How much is rent?
  • Is there a Brokers Fee and how much?
  • What is all included in the monthly rent?
  • Is there a security deposit?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • How far are the nearest conveniences such as a subway station, drug store, grocery store, etc?
  • Does the building have a doorman or buzzing service for guests and mail deliveries?
  • Is there a building maintenance staff?

Application Process

When renting an apartment, landlords usually require you to fill out an application. Applicants will be selected on the strength and/or balance of income, credit, assets, and guarantor. Below are just some details that will help you prepare for renting an apartment.

  • Most landlords will need you to annually earn 40 to 50 times the amount of your monthly rent. Don’t let this discourage you. Grants, scholarships, stipends, fellowships, and assets all count as income. For those who may have a roommate or sublet could require less annual income. For those who still don’t meet the income requirement, a guarantor may be the solution
  • A credit score of 550 and higher is important, as this shows your landlord you are responsible and you will pay your rent on time. A great source to check your Credit score for free is Credit Karma

Tenant Rights and Resources

Once you sign your lease, you can breathe easy. If an issue were to arise, you can refer to New York City Rent Guidelines Board Tenants’ Rights Guide.

As you enter the New York City rental market, you can now feel confident in your search. Follow the tips above, and you’re sure to have a much easier time renting your first NYC apartment.


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