You could see how was my apartment hunting in New York – I’ve written a post here on the blog with things that I learned during this process, check it out. I talked a little bit about my experience in general and I promised to come back with more tips, as a basic guide. And here I am! It is good to be aware of some things before you think about starting a search for an apartment.
Research, research, research – renting an apartment in New York requires much time and patience. It all starts with a lot of research – the websites that I mostly visited are Naked Apartments, RentHop and Street Easy, and the Oliver app. All of these websites allow you to filter your search by location, price range and amenities (elevator, laundry, garage, etc.). They also allows you to search for apartments “no fee”. Another great website for searching is Craigslist. On Craigslist, for example, there is the chance to find someone who wants to pass the lease – the person must leave the apartment before the contract expires and then you take it. It’s a good way to avoid a broker fee.
Broker fee – the dreaded broker fee is nothing more than the broker’s commission for showing you the apartments. The amount of commission may vary: there are brokers who work with a month rent fee and others work with a fee up to 15% of the annual amount of rent. There are apartments that are “no fee”- but when you filter your search for no fee apartments, your options greatly reduced. Keep in mind that when you contact a broker from a large real estate company, you will have access to much more apartments, that certainly will match your criteria- but will also have a broker fee.
Quick decisions – in New York, the real state market is very fast. The coldest months are usually slower, but from March, the market is very heated. Remember that there are millions of people looking to find their home sweet home. So it’s good to be aware and sure of what you want and how much you want to spend. This way, when you find the perfect apartment, you don’t waste time and fill out the application right away. It’s good to have all your documents organized too. In New York, there is not much time to think: take it or leave it.
Location – New York is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live, keep this in mind. Remember that the location leads the value of the rent. In Manhattan, for example, the cheapest units are in Upper Manhattan (Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood). You go downtown and more expensive and small are the apartments. Some areas of Brooklyn and Queens are also already super valued, like Williamsburg, Astoria and Long Island City. Another option is to look nearby cities in New Jersey, as Jersey City, Union City and Hoboken.
Credit score – in the United States, a good payer status is defined by a credit score – a number that represents how much you are trustfull. Credit score is influenced by many factors and there are several ways to make it grow. One of them – and perhaps the easiest – is to have a credit card. That’s how we built our credit score. But remember that the bank only released a credit card for us when we were already living here for about 8 months.
Requirements– to rent an apartment in New York, there are some requirements: most of the time, your annual income must be 40 times the amount of rent. Let us assume that the rent is $2,000. Your annual income must be $80,000. The credit score and annual income are the two crucial factors when it comes to accepting a tenant. After assessing the credit score and annual income, there are requirements. If your credit score is good and if your annual income is within the required, requirements are minimal: a security deposit in the amount of rent (and you get your money back when you leave the apartment) and a month rent in advance. In cases of outstanding credit score, you can negotiate a half value for the security deposit. If you do not meet the requirements (no credit good score, for example), the requirements may vary. When we arrived here, we visited apartments that asked for one year rent in advance. Who has credit, has everything.
Documents required – when you find the dream apartment, you need to fill an application, with your basic information. Every application has a fee, ranging from $50 to $150 – this money is lost money – no matter if you get the apartment or not. So it’s good to be aware that you really want the apartment, for not wasting money. In addition to this application, you also need to present documents such as passport, letter from employer stating the position and salary, pay stub, bank statements and tax returns.
Guarantor – in case of apartment rent for students, there are the guarantor – if you do not pay, he pays. The guarantor usually need to have annual income of 80 to 100 times the amount of rent and submit all documents required in the previous topic. The guarantor must reside in the United States – sometimes, the landlord requires the guarantor is in the area (New York or New Jersey). The guarantor can also be accepted in cases of people having a bad credit score or do not have the necessary annual income – but not all apartments accept guarantors!
Other details – all apartments already have furnished kitchen – sink, cabinets, stove and refrigerator at least. Some units have a dishwasher and a microwave. Water and heating are included in the rent, most of them. Some also have include cooking gas. Stay tuned to the rules of each building: many units don’t allow pets.
Did you like the tips? I’m no expert on the subject – I’m just going over everything I learned here.
Laura Peruchi is a Brazilian blogger, author, and entrepreneur. She has lived in Manhattan with her husband since 2014. Since then, she has shared on her blog varied content about the Big Apple. From travel tips, including unusual things to do, shopping tips, etiquette, restaurants, and a lot more, her blog has become a reference in Portuguese (also available in English) for anyone planning a trip to New York City.