7 Essential Tips For Renting an Apartment in NYC

Finding an apartment in New York City has proven itself to be very difficult, especially in today’s highly competitive rental market. Not only do you have to go through the process of finding an apartment that’s right for you, you also have to beat out the likely-hundreds of other people who are applying for the apartment as well. And with the average rent in Manhattan hitting an all-time high of $5,000 in June, it can be difficult to compete against applicants who are offering the landlord more than the asking price.

To have the best chance at even finding an apartment, you have to be flexible about where you want to live, the size of the apartment, and the amenities you’re looking for. This will not only help you find more options, but also hopefully find one that’s not too far out of your budget.

However, many more people are looking to rent rather than buy in New York City, so here are a few tips to help you during your apartment search:

Do Ample Research on Neighborhoods

Oftentimes, visiting a neighborhood once during the day or making an assumption on it based on its surrounding neighborhoods may not give you the most accurate depiction of the neighborhood. Instead, you’ll want to look into doing more thorough research on where you want to live.

This includes doing things such as viewing the neighborhood on Google Street View, checking websites for local news, and looking at the neighborhood on websites such as StreetEasy. Reading up on the local news will allow you to get an idea of what is going on in the neighborhood and how safe it may be. Additionally, websites such as StreetEasy provide in depth information on neighborhoods you may be curious about.

Not only do you want to do research on the neighborhoods, but you also want to research the buildings and landlords you are considering. While it is already difficult to find an apartment in New York City, you do not want to find yourself living in a building that is not properly managed. You can ask tenants in the building what their experience is like living there, what the management is like, and so on.

You can also use websites such as the Department of Buildings, Apartment Ratings, and RentCity to find reviews on both the building and your landlord. Lastly, when you are viewing the building, you want to keep an eye out for how well the common areas are maintained. This will give you an idea of how well the landlord and the management care for the building.

Related read: 15 questions to ask before renting in NYC

Look For Rent Costs Aligned With Your Income

It can be difficult to meet a landlord’s income requirements in New York City, especially with the average rent price continuing to increase. Most New York landlords require that a tenant makes an annual salary of 40 to 50 times the monthly rent. If you can’t meet this requirement, you may want to look into having roommates or finding a guarantor.

If you have roommates, your combined annual salary should still be 40 to 50 times the monthly rent. This can be a much easier task to accomplish in comparison to trying to meet the requirement on your own.

Find a Guarantor

If you prefer to live on your own, you may want to consider finding someone to be your personal guarantor. This person is often a close family member or friend; however, they must make at least 80 to 100 times your monthly rent. This is because it is expected that they are able to afford both their own costs of living as well as yours. They may also be required to live in the tri-state area. This way, they can be easily tracked down if the landlord needs to contact them for missing rent, for example. If you don’t have anyone who’s able to do this for you, you may be able to pay for an institutional guarantor. This is a company who will act as your guarantor for a fee. Their income and employment requirements are much less strict; however, you’ll need to have good credit to be approved.

If none of these are an option for you, you may want to look into a co-living situation. Co-living provides you with a room in a fully furnished apartment that is equipped with the necessary utilities and amenities. This is a more affordable living option for those looking to move to New York City.

Buy If Your Budget Allows For It

With rising mortgage rates and an unstable economy, many people have been deterred from buying apartments. This means you’ll face much less competition when looking to buy an apartment compared to renting.

Yes, prices for buying a home are still high, and you’ll have to face the higher mortgage rates, but there will be more room for negotiation. In fact, some buyers are currently able to make offers below the asking price. While buying definitely isn’t an option for everyone, if it is for you, it’s definitely worth considering.

Be Prepared to Pay Broker Fees

In New York City, brokers often charge large fee amounts to renters. Brokers often charge up to 15 percent of your yearly rent as their fee, although this is negotiable. It’s possible to find a landlord who will agree to cover these charges; although this is unlikely in today’s market. Because you’ll likely be stuck paying this fee in addition to other fees such as the security deposit, be sure to account for it in your budget.

Related read: How to rent in NYC without paying broker fees

Not All Rentals Are Found in Rental Buildings

Renting an apartment in an apartment building is a much different experience in comparison to renting an apartment in a co-op or condo building. Co-op and condo buildings will likely have nicer appliances, apartments, and amenities, although it can be a lot more difficult to be approved for these apartments.

For example, in co-ops, you must be approved by the co-op board in addition to the apartment owner in order to become a tenant. There may also be higher application fees and even restrictions on how long you can rent the apartment for.

Pets Will Limit Your Rental Options

Many buildings in New York City have strict rules regarding pets. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some landlords began to loosen their rules to accommodate those who got pets during the pandemic.

However, most buildings still have limits on the weight and breed of the pets that are permitted. Your pet may also need to be screened by the landlord before moving in. Be sure to read through your building's rules before signing a lease.

Additionally, you’ll want to try to find an apartment that can accommodate the needs of your dog as well as yours. If your dog is active and enjoys the outdoors, you may want to look at more pet friendly neighborhoods that are close to dog runs and parks.

Descriptions Can Be Deceiving

When looking at an apartment description, keep in mind that brokers are doing their best to attract as many renters as possible. This means that they are going to use attractive words such as “luxury” or “charming” in order to get your attention. While the apartment may be beautiful, it may not be all that the description has made it out to be.

Also, keep in mind that brokers will include all amenities in their descriptions. This means that if there is no mention of an elevator or laundry facilities, it is because the building does not include them.

Outerbridge Law Fights for Tenants

Finding an apartment in New York City is incredibly difficult—it’s one of the toughest rental markets in the world. So if you are unlawfully evicted after going through all the work to find a place, it can be infuriating.

Outerbridge Law understands how hard you work to find a place, and how frustrating it is when a landlord treats you poorly. If you’ve been the victim of landlord tenant harassment, illegally evicted, or had your rights as a renter trampled in any other way, don’t hesitate; contact Outerbridge Law today to see if you have a case.