For today’s blog post, I’m going to switch gears and offer a look into the rental process here in NYC. Unlike the lengthy sales process, renting in the city happens fast and preparation is absolutely essential to landing that amazing apartment. So what should you expect?
1) There will be income requirements, and you may need a guarantor.
Generally speaking, landlords look to see that those on the lease earn at least forty times the monthly rent. If you plan to have a roommate, you can combine both salaries, yes. Should you fall short of the income requirement, plan to bring a guarantor onboard. Guarantors should be able to show earnings of at least eighty times the monthly rent, and they do have to go through the application process as well. Good credit is a must as is possession of ample liquid funds. Falling short in these categories could result in having to put extra rent and/or security upfront.
2) Have your paperwork ready BEFORE you begin your search.
When a well-priced, fantastic NYC apartment comes on the market for rent, you can bet there are a slew of individuals who submit applications. A little tip: Landlords and agents don’t wait for folks to have their paperwork ready so gathering these documents beforehand can put you ahead of the pack. Check out the “7 Essential Documents for Renting An Apartment in NYC” and start working on them! If you’re last to apply, you’re usually out of luck in nabbing that apartment.
3) Don’t begin your search too early!
Rental apartments in NYC tend to come on the market about 1-4 weeks before a desired lease start date. Plan your timeline accordingly. If you’re looking for September 1, for example, don’t start viewing ‘immediate’ apartments in June. Why? A landlord isn’t going to lose 2-3 months worth of rent and accept that early of a lease start. Get to know the market beforehand, yes, but be ready to pounce about 2-3 weeks before your desired start date.
4) The season in which you rent matters.
Plain and simple: rent in the summer, pay more rent --- rent in the winter, pay a bit less. NYC’s peak rental season is May through August. Competition is higher during these months (heavily due to the outgoing and incoming college graduates looking for housing) as are the rental prices. If you can wait until the winter, chances are you’ll see a slight reduction in asking rents. You’ll just have to be okay moving during the colder months.
5) You will come across “rental buildings”, “condos” and “co-ops”.
NYC offers rentals in different types of buildings. For the quickest (and often easiest and least expensive application fees), stick with rental buildings. These buildings are generally managed or owned by large companies, and they carry rather clear-cut requirements for approval. Condos and co-ops, on the other hand, will require additional approvals and wait-times. Both carry heftier application fees that are often $750+ along with additional paperwork requirements. Furthermore, condo and co-op boards will need to approve your application, with an in-person interview needed for the latter. The average wait time for that approval hovers around 2-4 weeks after your application is submitted.
Why would one choose to rent in a co-op or condo? Ninety-nine percent of the time, you are renting from a direct owner so the apartments tend to be well taken care of when it comes to quality and finishes. Some tenants also enjoy dealing directly with a sole owner as opposed to a large management company. The choice ultimately comes down to your preference, a heftier and slightly pricier application process, and your ability to wait for approval!
*Note that most co-ops have sublet policies in place so be sure to inquire beforehand as to how long you will be allowed to rent the apartment!
6) You likely won’t get a cap on your 2nd year renewal.
Try for it if you can, but don’t expect free-market rentals to allow a cap on the increase for your renewal. This is just one of the risks that comes with renting. When I represent tenants, I push for including a lease rider that stipulates a 2-3% cap on the second year's rental increase. Sometimes it’s accepted and sometimes not. It never hurts to ask!
7) Expect to pay a broker fee.
No-fee listings do exist in the city, and you may just have to do the legwork to find them. If you’re trying to avoid the fee altogether, I always advise the following: Spend a week or so looking at no-fee listings only. If you have not located a building you like or found an apartment that meets your criteria, call a trusted real estate agent for help. It will open up your search immensely.
Owners and management companies very often hire real estate agents to rent their apartments. Understand that these agents have an exclusive contract when hired and will thus collect a fee from any qualified tenant interested in renting that particular apartment. The broker fee ranges from 1 month’s rent to 15% of the annual rent, depending. Inquire before viewing, and you can always ask if the fee is negotiable.
8) The earlier you schedule your movers, the better.
If you’re renting in the late spring or summer, get a tentative moving date on the books a few weeks beforehand. Moving companies book up very fast in the peak rental season, and you don’t want to be left in the lurch. Take a peek at my tips for hiring movers, and stay on top of the scheduling!
I wish you all the best in your rental search! If you’re in need of a trusted resource to aid with your search, feel free to call upon me. While the rental process can be a bit daunting…….it certainly doesn’t have to be. Happy hunting!
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