My son recently applied to go to college in NYC and I have been on the lookout to help him find the perfect rental for when he gets there for school. The only issue… it is so expensive to live in NYC. Not only that but it is also impossible to find an actual rental unit at times which is the reason for the high prices. I have heard stories from friends of mine that thought they got the perfect rental to only find out within hours, that the rental had been swooped up by someone else. Even worse…. maybe you thought you found something in your price range… only to learn about hidden fees that now have moved it out of your price range. Thank goodness after doing some research I found tons of tips to help me in the rental search process. Let’s take a look at some tips when searching for the perfect rental in NYC.
1) Figure Out Your Rental Budget
First… you have to figure out the budget that you can afford and to know what you are working with and then to actually stick to that budget that you have mapped out for yourself. It is crazy expensive and competitive in the New York City housing market, even now after Covid…… so being prepared and knowing what you can handle is the first step. Also keep in mind that you need to be ready to move fast when you do find that special space…..so make sure to have all of the documents and cash on hand ready to put in your bid and down payment immediately. Otherwise… you will miss out and someone else that is better prepared… will get the space. Also… it is important to know when figuring out your rental budget… that most landlords in NYC require your gross annual income to be forty times your monthly rent. According to Zumper, the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in NYC is $2500….so if you are looking to rent a 1 bedroom space at $2500 a month… landlords are looking for renters making at least 100,000 thousand a year.
2) Make a List of Your ‘Must Haves’ for Your Rental Space
Now that you know the budget that you are working with… it is time to decide what your ‘must haves’ are for your rental space. Be realistic here as you may not find that apartment with a washer and dryer included at your budget…. so set realistic ‘must haves’ here. Maybe you are looking fro a space with that washer and dryer included…. OR maybe you have a pet and you need to make sure the space you are looking into allows them. Does the building have elevator or only stairs that you will have to ask up every day? Do you want to be on the first floor or higher up in the building? Think about all of these things carefully and figure out those must haves… and figure out what you can d without as this will help in the selection process of your rental space in NYC.
3) Have All Of Your Documents For The Rental Process Ready To Go
In New York City… rental units are snapped up within days and sometimes hours, which is why having all of your documentation ready to go… is key. Rental units do require income verification and more…so be ready so that you do not lose the rental that you have fallen in love with. When you go to look at the rental space… have everything with you so that you can make the offer and hand it over to the landlord immediately. You should have the following items on hand…..
*A copy of your most recent paystub(s)
*Tax returns for the past 2 years.
*A current copy of your credit report.
*A copy of your drivers license or passport.
*A list of personal references as well as professional references.
4) Do Some Research On The Landlord Or Rental Building You Are Interested In
In this day and age… it is sad but true that you have to cover your butt…. meaning do a bit of research on your landlord and/or rental building. There are definitely some questionable characters controlling NYC properties which is why doing something as simple as a Google search can make all the difference. If you do a search on Google and get hits titled…. “Scam Artist” or something like that…. steer clear of that property or landlord and continue on your search until you find a credible person or space.
You can get help here as there are great lists that you can check out that compile a listing of some of the absolute worst landlords in New York City. The listing I found…. is based on the number of Housing Preservation & Development and Department of Buildings violations they have accrued over the years. Definitely check out this list before signing anything with your new prospective landlord.
5) Look for rent-stabilized apartments if possible
Now you may not know what rent-stabilized means… but it is exactly what it sounds like…. a rental unit that is protected against dramatic price increases. The rent may still go up, but it can only be done annually due to the NYC Rent Guidelines Board. Instead of a spike of something crazy like $500…. you may see an annual increase of $50… which is more reasonable.
Another benefit to a rent-stabilized apartment is as a tenant you are guaranteed the right to renew your lease. This is fabulous as landlords cannot just toss you out due to someone else offering to pay a a higher rental amount… they have to always ask you if you was to renew and as long as you do… you are guaranteed your spot. I also have to mention that rent-stabilized leases are much easier to get than rent-controlled leases, which prohibit the owner from changing your rent at all.
Once You have found a space and landlord worth looking into, here are a few other things to look into and inquire about before making the final decision….
*Ask about utilities that are or are not covered. This can increase your budget in certain instances…
*Ask if they allow pets if you are a pet owner.
*Check for major appliances and a functioning smoke detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector.
*Check the cell reception in the building.
*Scan for signs of rodents and rodent infestation.
*Take measurements & pictures of the space.
*Spend some time in the neighborhood to get a feel of the place.
*Learn about the rentals alteration policy… whether you can paint, add wallpaper and more.
6) Last But Not Least…..Read the Lease Carefully!
So now you know the space you want, you have made your offer, provided the documents and the landlord accepts your offer…… Now read that lease before signing! I know you want this process to be over with and to get moved into your new space…. but make sure to take the time to read your lease throughly before signing as once you do … you are locked in for a year or more. If you do find that something is not right in the lease….take it up with the owner before signing or even initial a page. What is worrying you may be nothing at all… but making sure beforehand is a must as once you sign it is a binding legal contract.