If you are renting an apartment in New York City for the first time, or are a savvy NYC native who has rented multiple apartments over the years, everyone can benefit from taking the time to plan prior to beginning your apartment rentals search. The rentals market moves very quickly, and having your personal information and finances in order can mean the difference between getting an apartment you love, or losing out on a great rental because your paperwork and payments are not prepared on time.
Prepare beforehand to bring to the first appointment with your rental agent:
- Personal photo identification (driver's license or passport).
- Letter of employment on company letterhead stating job title, length of employment (include start date if not yet employed), and salary. Must be signed and dated recently by a supervisor or individual authorized to verify the information.
- Three most recent pay stubs.
- If self employed, a letter from a Certified Public Accountant on company letterhead stating current year's projected income and verifying the nature of your business and past year's income.
- Two most recent tax returns (typically only the first page and signature page is required).
- Bank account numbers (checking and savings) and your three most recent bank statements (your name needs to appear on the statement).
- Credit card numbers (often required on application forms).
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of previous landlords. Include any landlord reference letters, if given.
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of personal and business references.
- Additional sources of income with verification. If you are expecting a large bonus, documentation is required stating the amount.
Tip: Make a copy of each of the above to bring to your appointment. When your apartment search is a success, you'll be ready to submit any required information without concern that an original document may not be returned to you.
Tip: If you have any pets, it is important to let your rental agent know as some apartments have strict policies regarding animals.
Be prepared to complete once you've found an apartment:
- Application: Your rental agent will provide an application form for completion once you've decided to pursue entering a lease on a specific apartment.
- Credit Report: A credit check will be run when your rental application is submitted. Your credit history and rating is a significant part of the decision process for the landlord or management company. If you have credit issues, please let your agent know in advance so that they can appropriately prepare and discuss your options.
Renting an apartment in NYC requires a few types of fees and necessary payments as part of the standard leasing process with a rental agent. Take the time to estimate how much the total cost could add up to for you, and budget accordingly before you plan on moving to a new apartment.
- Deposit: Anywhere from a few hundred dollars to one month's rent – the amount is whatever is deemed to show good faith and can be required to take an apartment off the market during the application process.
- Application Fee: The landlord or management company's fee for checking references, performing a credit check, etc. By law, the fee must be consistent with a reasonable cost for making these checks. Non-refundable.
- Security Deposit: Typically one month's rent is collected and may be used by your landlord at the termination of your lease either as a reimbursement for apartment damages beyond normal wear and tear, or as reimbursement for any unpaid rent. If neither apply, the security deposit is returned. Payable by certified check.
- Rent: Your first month's rent is due at lease signing, and for this month only, must be paid using a certified check. Additional months' rent may be required upfront in special cases, such as renters with poor credit or students without income and/or credit.
- Broker's Fee: Broker's are owed a fee in a leasing transaction. A “no fee apartment” means the fee is paid for by the landlord. When the landlord does not pay a fee, brokers generally charge clients between 8.5% to 15% of the annual rent; however, there is no standard fee. Fees are negotiable and depend on various market conditions.
Tip: You can expect to pay 30% of your gross annual salary for rent. To qualify for an apartment, most landlords require that you earn annually 40x to 50x the monthly rent amount.
Tip: Consider renters’ insurance. Although it is generally not required, you may be surprised at how inexpensive a policy to protect your belongings can be.
What is a Guarantor?
Anytime you do not meet a landlord's requirements as an individual leaseholder, a guarantor may be required for the approval of your rental application. A guarantor is a person that becomes financially and legally responsible in the event that you fail to make rent payments. Renters may be viewed as a risk who earn less than 40x to 50x the monthly rent, have a poor credit score, or do not have a rental history. If any of these factors could affect your application, inquire if the landlord will accept a guarantor.
Your guarantor needs to earn 80x to 100x the monthly rent and, ideally, is an individual who resides in-state or within the tri-state area. They will need to provide all the personal information required of renters (listed above), so it is advised that you ask a prospective guarantor for their help well in advance of your apartment search.