Everything You Need As a First-Time Renter in NYC

by Ben SanfordJuly 30, 2018

Looking to Rent in NYC? Here’s What You Need to Know

Unlike other rental scenes, the rental market in New York City is made unique by its high prices and low inventory. While rents in west coast cities like San Francisco and Portland are starting to mirror New York’s conditions, the city’s high density and longstanding rental competition means that this city is unlike renting anywhere else.

If you’re moving to New York City and searching for a place to rent, it’s important to dive in to this process fully informed, as you get ready to rise to the top of the competition. If you’re a first-time renter in the Big Apple, here’s what you need to know to navigate the city’s competitive rental market with success.

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Renting in NYC? Have Your Paperwork in Order

In a market where second guessing your decision or waiting to get all of your paperwork in order could lead to you losing your dream apartment, it’s important to make sure that you have each piece of renter information you need at-the-ready for your prospective landlord. In New York City, these are paperwork items you’ll want to have ready before you apply to your apartment:

  • Last two pay stubs
  • A current photo ID
  • Your previous three months of bank statements
  • Your last two years of tax returns
  • A letter of current employment that reveals your job title, salary, and length of employment
  • Proof of any other income or funds, such as stocks
  • A letter of reference from a recent landlord that can provide a favorable review
  • Personal or job references to add to your credibility

Secure a Cosigner or a Guarantor if You Need One

Rent is competitive in NYC, so having a cosigner or a guarantor may be important in securing your top rental choice. In New York City, it’s important for a guarantor to prove that they make 60-80 times the rent cost. Likewise, it’s a mandate for the guarantor to submit application paperwork (this includes items like pay stubs, tax returns, etc.) and sign the lease. It’s also worth noting that the guarantor is required to live in the United States, and often within the broader NYC area.

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Consider Using a Broker

While finding a broker for a rental property may seem like an unconventional choice for most renters, in New York City, it’s important to have as many resources as possible to make sure you’re able to secure your dream property, once you find it.

Know Your Budget

Living in New York City isn’t cheap, which is why it’s important to go into the rental process knowing the limits of your budget. In New York City, the majority of landlords require that a tenant bring in a minimum of 40 times an apartment’s monthly rent in a year. If you can’t prove that income on paper, then you may need to adjust your budget to fit NYC rental requirements.

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Set Realistic Expectations When Renting in NYC

Despite other rental markets that you may have grown up with or lived in previously, it’s important to monitor your cost expectations in NYC. Many Realtors suggest that you get an accurate estimate of what your desired apartment size costs in your preferred neighborhood.

Start to play with other factors, too, inquiring what an apartment might cost without amenities like a washer or dryer — or investigate what moving to a more removed neighborhood might offer you price-wise. In the end, setting realistic expectations will help you be a savvy renter.

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About The Author
Ben Sanford
Ben is a real estate agent and freelance writer. He's lived on the east coast his entire life and is just as "at home" on a snowboard as he is in the office. When not writing about local real estate markets and researching hot new tips for homeowners, he can be found working on his home renovation projects with help from his wife Melissa and their kids, Josh and Cheyenne.