Moving to NYC is a very exciting experience but it can be a bit overwhelming at the beginning. There might be some awesome and popular NYC rental sites here that everyone knows about but when you’re completely NEW, you have NO IDEA where to start, where to look for apartment rentals in New York and it can be confusing. What reliable sites are out there to rent an apartment in NYC? What should I look for?
I decided to write this post because I remember I didn’t know where to look & went to see “scam” listings which was a waste of time… I also had the opportunity to move to another city and had no idea of the “reliable rental sites” there, so when you’re new and aren’t familiar with the city, you have to ask around and what’s best than those tips from someone LOCAL? 😉
This is, in my opinion, the BEST site to look for apartment rentals in NYC! Keep in mind that this site is good to look for rents but not for roommates. So if you’re also looking for a roommate, I’ll write a separate post about that soon 🙂
This is NOT a “sponsored” post!! I truly think that StreetEasy’s the most reliable and safe site to look for apartment rentals in NYC. There are many others (you can do your research!) out there. But be aware of scam brokers, or many listings that aren’t really available so you go and meet with the broker and it turns out that they show you other listings but not the one you were interested in when you contacted them! So be careful. Don’t feel attached to any broker! They can be very overwhelming and they will be contacting you many times with emails, etc. so don’t feel attached to anyone. Some will make you sign a contract before showing you certain listings so be careful too. Sometimes you really have no option… but sign only for the apartment you’re going to see. And be aware of the “no-fee buildings”. You should never pay a fee if you go to see a “no-fee building”. More below!
Apartment Rentals in NY: Things you should consider
Condos vs. Co-Ops
In very easy words, a co-op (a housing cooperative) is a corporation that owns the building. In a co-op, the owners have an interest or share of the building and in a condo, each apartment has its owner.
Co-ops are generally way more strict for renting since the board of the co-op has to approve the tenant in a more rigorous way. You’ll likely need to have an interview with the board, they’ll likely ask you to get a U.S. guarantor, and they’ll ask for a lot more information than renting an apartment in a NYC condo. They also have more strict rules in terms of what you can and can’t do. It can be harder for foreigners to rent in a co-op.
The easiest “type” of building to rent, is the condo owned or managed by a management company.
Fee vs. No-Fee Apartments in NYC
Some apartment rentals are “no-broker-fee” which means that you don’t have to pay anything to any broker for renting the apartment.
Some others are “broker-fee” which means you must pay a broker fee if you end up renting the apartment. In NYC the broker fee is paid by the tenant and not by the landlord. You can try to negotiate the broker fee. It can be a full month of rent. In fact, you shouldn’t pay more than a full month of rent! Some will charge 15% of a year’s rent (that can be 2 months of rent!). I do not recommend that. It’s a lot and there are more options out there.
You should not pay the broker fee again if you decide to renew the lease for one more year (make sure about this before signing anything!).
You can search on StreetEasy for “no fee” apartments. Sometimes it’s worth paying a broker fee if you find an apartment you really love and at a good price. Keep in mind that renting in NYC is very expensive!
Many buildings in NYC don’t have elevators
This can be a weird thing for people coming from certain cities. Some people don’t care and for some others, having no elevator isn’t an option.
Try to avoid the first floor
In the USA the first floor is the “ground floor”.
The reason for this is because it’s dirtier and because of RATS. It’s easier for a rat to come inside your apartment if you live on the first floor! Especially if you’re renting a walk-up or if you’re in an area more infested with rats…
They’re usually unfurnished
I clarify this because in some countries is not very common to rent unfurnished apartments.
There are some furnished options here, but of course, it’s a lot more expensive. If you’re planning to stay in NY for at least a year, it could end up being a lot cheaper renting an unfurnished apartment and buying cheap furniture at Ikea 😉 You can search on StreetEasy for “furnished” apartments.
The contract is usually for a year of rent
Be aware that there are some very old buildings in NYC called “pre-war buildings”. Keep in mind that’s easier in these buildings to have rats since they were built many many years ago, even though some apartment rentals are renovated but still! Also, you have more chances of things not working well since it’s an old building… also some floors might be “unbalanced”, but some are in really good condition. I personally prefer to avoid them.
Laundry in Building
Many buildings in NYC don’t have laundry inside the building (mainly the old buildings). If this is something that bothers you, look for those apartment rentals with laundry in the building. A few have laundry inside the apartment but this isn’t very common in NYC 😉
Besides this, there are many laundry places in the city and many of them deliver your laundry to your door at a cheap price or even for free.
If you have pets, keep in mind that in some buildings pets are not allowed and they are very strict about that. So look for those “pet-friendly” buildings.
Apartments for Rent in NYC: What will they ask for?
Each building has its own rules. You have the rentals directly through owners and rentals through a Management Leasing Office that’s in charge of the whole building.
All will generally ask you for:
- First month and security deposit. The security deposit is usually the equivalent of one month of rent. Sometimes they also ask for the last month of rent upfront.
- Letter of employment with salary. If self-employed, a letter from an accountant.
- First two pages of last year’s U.S. tax return & credit score check. If you’re foreign, your best bet will be to rent at those buildings with management leasing offices since they’re more open to rent to foreigners. Foreigners won’t have a U.S. credit history or tax returns of previous years and many of those management buildings won’t ask you for a U.S. guarantor.
- Copy of your photo ID or passport & Visa.
- Optional: Reference letter from previous landlord.
Kitchens in New York
Kitchens are fully equipped in NYC with cabinets, refrigerator, oven and many times with a dishwasher & microwave as well.
Gas, Heat and Hot & Cold Water
In condo buildings, gas, heat and hot & cold water are usually included in the rent.
Tips before you rent an apartment in NY:
- Never rent an apartment in NYC without seeing it first! Avoid scams! Many times the apartment isn’t exactly as you see it in the pictures! Sometimes they have no natural light, no views at all other than a wall, etc. Many have “general” pictures of the apartment that they use for all those apartments with that same “layout” in the building so be aware.
- Avoid writing personal checks or making wire transfers. Usually, they ask for certified checks/money orders that have fraud protection. You can get a Money Order at USPS.
You might also want to check out:
- How to stop getting mail addressed to previous tenants.
- How to stop junk mail.
- Help filing taxes.
- Home Decor Stores in NY.
Good luck with your search for apartment rentals in New York 🙂