How to Rent an Apartment in New York City

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Are you planning a move to the Big Apple? Maybe you live there but want to find an apartment closer to your job or places you like to go. Renting a New York City apartment may seem like a daunting task, but don't let the magnitude of this task overwhelm you. Take it one step at a time as you search for the apartment of your dreams.

Research the different areas of New York City, before you arrive. The City of New York is separated into five boroughs -- Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan. Determine which area is most appealing to you in terms of population, services offered and proximity to your place of employment.

Consult apartment classified listings on Craigslist, the Village Voice, The New York Times and other publications to determine average price ranges for apartments in areas you are interested in. The cost of a New York City Apartment in a given area will greatly affect your choice of location. While you may imagine yourself living in a fantastic loft in the West Village of Manhattan, your budget may be more suited for a studio apartment in Queens.

Make sure your expectations are realistic. New York City apartments are notoriously small, and items like dishwashers, balconies, washers and dryers are considered luxuries. Determine realistically what you qualify to afford.

Contact apartment brokers or real estate agents in your areas of interest to set up appointments to see apartments. You are not obligated to work with only one broker, so set up as many appointments as possible to insure you are seeing a good range of apartments that suit your needs. It is reasonable to see three or more apartments in a single day. Also try word of mouth and just walking around neighborhoods to look for "For Rent" signs.

Arrive at a broker's office or rental agency with the necessary paperwork in hand. Potential landlords will want to see your current pay stubs, letter of employment from an employer, past year's taxes, bank account statements, landlord or professional references and a credit report history that the broker will run in his office. Prepare to pay the broker a fee for the application process.

Ask for a lease and find out how much you have to pay upfront to rent an apartment. When you're ready to sign the lease, be prepared to pay with the form of payment the landlord requires.


  • Prepare photocopied packets of all your paperwork to present to brokers and potential landlords during the application process. Brokers will destroy the paperwork if you do not end up renting one of their apartments.

    Wear comfortable walking shoes. You may walk several miles in one day when apartment hunting.

    Be honest with a broker about your needs. Tell her if you have a pet or plan to find a roommate.

    Bring a digital camera along on your search so you are able to remember details of each apartment you see.

    Be prepared to act immediately if you see an apartment you like. In New York City, apartments can rent in hours, not days.


  • Never pay a fee for a list of available New York City apartments, or just to view apartments. Never pay "key money," fees to superintendents or doormen. These fees are illegal.


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