how to rent an apartment in nyc

Next to “What is the meaning of life?” –  this has always been one of the eternal questions that has stumped Mensa.  How exactly does one go about renting an apartment in NYC without spending thousands of dollars finding it, paying off the broker, and attending therapy classes to deal with the stress? In this article, we’ll tell you exactly what you need to do to rent your own apartment in NYC without breaking the bank.

1. Research NYC Rental Laws

Rental laws may not be the same here as they were back home, and there’s a lot of nuances. So here’s the authorities on rental laws in New York City: read through them to make sure you know your rights and what the landlords can charge:

Your Rights as a Tenant

10 Things to Know about Rental Housing in NYC

If you’ve got these couple of links internalized, there shouldn’t be much that they can throw at you that you don’t know. Make sure you know the difference between rent-regulated and market-rate housing, precedents on the security deposit, and the fees you’re required to pay (and the fees that your landlord will make up).

2. Figure Out How Much You Can Pay

How to Rent an Apartment in NYC Cash

Or should I say, how much can you BURN.

This will depend on a number of things. Usually, landlords will require that you make 40x to 50x the monthly lease in annual income, to ensure that you’ll pay your lease and won’t default. If not, they’ll ask that you have a guarantor, someone who can pay the lease in case you can’t. For those of you who neither make the ridiculous requirements of the landlords or have a guarantor available, there’s a service called Insurent that will serve as your guarantor for a small monthly fee.

For a fee less than a broker, Insurent will act as your institutional guarantor. Landlords win because they lose all risk associated with the rental.  If you default, Insurent pays them. Simple as that. You win because Insurent’s criteria for serving as your guarantor is A LOT more lenient than a landlord’s, and you can quickly rent your dream apartment within 24 hours of applying.

You’ll also want to check your credit score. Often, landlords will make renters with low credit scores pay higher security deposits, or even refuse to rent to you (as is their right). So if you’ve got a low credit score, you might want to keep your expectations lower.

3. Decide Between Broker and No-Fee Apartment Hunting

A real estate broker in NYC does two things: they process as much relevant information from you on what type of apartments, locations, and prices you’d like, and they take you to see a number apartments that match these criteria. This option saves busy New Yorkers the hassle of having to search through hundreds of listings and landlords to find their ideal apartment, but it’ll cost you: brokers typically claim a fee from 8% to 16% of the annual rent of your apartment. In New York, this means you could pay $3,600 to your broker for a standard $2,000 apartment at 15% a month, a hefty fee for something that you could potentially do yourself. No-fee apartments, on the other hand, are equivalent to what most of us would just call “the normal way of renting an apartment”: you’ll find, rent, and move in by yourself, and avoid paying any fees.

List of No-Fee Websites:

Our friends at Brickunderground has a great directory for both no-fee websites and broker websites: here http://directory.brickunderground.com/listing/guide/search-sites-fee-no-fee

List of Broker Websites: http://directory.brickunderground.com/listing/guide/by-brokerageagency

4. Read the Lease Thoroughly and Gather All Paperwork

DON’T FORGET TO READ THE WHOLE LEASE. I repeat, DON’T FORGET TO READ THE WHOLE LEASE.

How to Rent an Apartment in NYCDON’T FORGET TO READ THE LEASE.

Why? Because if something that you don’t like is in the lease and you sign it, you’re stuck with it. For good. Pay close attention to terms that allow your landlord unscheduled entry into your apartment, allow him to raise the rent during your lease, or allow him to kick you out for specified reasons. Furthermore, if you’re planning on making alterations to your apartment, make a contract in writing. If you document everything, you’re less likely to have problems in the future.

5. Last step before you SIGN the lease, get the ADDRESSREPORT

New website AddressReport gives you important insight into what your potential apartment is actually like.

Aspects such as:

  • Past violations and complaints made with the city, (would be good to know if other people complained often about rats in the building as a for instance)
  • Construction happenings (if you enjoy things such as sleep)
  • Elevator Wait-times for the morning. (for those of you in one of those big ol’ buildings with only one working elevator)
  • Listings History to make sure you are paying on par with the other recent tenants
  • Demographics: Cool to know if you are living in a den of rich, old, republicans.
  • Transportation:  Commute times, proximity to transportation

 

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