10 things you need to know before renting an apartment in NYC

20th March 2018
10 things you need to know before renting an apartment in NYC

Moving to New York takes a lot of planning and research. When you are preparing for your new expat lifestyle, take into consideration where you want to live. There are many districts to choose from in New York to suit your preferences. If you wish to live in one of the more in-demand neighbourhoods, it’s important to secure an apartment or house early.

Renting in New York City is particularly complex in comparison to other cities in the USA. Finding accommodation in New York can take time and effort, but it is worth it to get the right place for your long-term relocation.

1. Choosing a borough

There are five boroughs in New York: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx. Most expatriates prefer to be close to where they will be working, which is usually Manhattan. As such, real estate in Manhattan is very expensive and more limited in property types. Some of the outer boroughs, like Brooklyn, have very desirable neighbourhoods, larger properties and better value for money.

2. Consider the commute

Moving too far away from the business district does extend the commute into work considerably. There is an extensive public transportation system, but the subway gets very busy at peak times. Expect to travel for upwards of an hour from the outer boroughs. Driving is possible, but congestion at rush hour, especially through the tunnels, can add a lot of time. /

3. Types of property

There are a lot of different types of property to choose from in New York City. In Manhattan and the business district, most rentals are apartments. Apartments are usually in large, serviced buildings with a secure entrance and doorman. Older buildings from the pre-war period offer exceptional build quality and are architecturally stunning, though may have less modern facilities.

New buildings built in the last 10 years often have amenities that include a valet, maid service, a gym, swimming pool, parking and a concierge. These apartments are in high demand and have a comprehensive application process. There are townhouses in the outer boroughs, which are larger and often have outdoor space.

4. Financial eligibility

Landlords will set financial eligibility limits on their properties, and require proof of income as part of the application process. Therefore, you will need to have confirmation of your job offer or contract, and salary. It is normal to ask for an income of 40-50 times the monthly rental value.

5. Payments and fees

You will have to pay a minimum of a month’s rent in advance, but this could be up to three months. Most rental properties will also require a security deposit of another one or two months’ rent. Foreign nationals without a US credit history may have to pay a higher security deposit, which can be up to a full year’s rent. There will be a real estate fee payable too, which is 15% of the annual rent for a lease of one year or more.

There will be communal building fees to consider, which includes payment for a doorman, if relevant, as well as access to the facilities, parking and upkeep of shared areas. Some utilities may be included, for example heating and water, but the rest will usually be payable separately and may also require a deposit to the provider. Other fees include the cost of the initial application and credit check.

6. Prepare to move fast

The rental market in New York moves quite fast. It’s a good idea to get everything in place before actively looking for and applying for properties. Research location and property types, so you know what you want.

Make sure you can commit to a lease – if you can’t move fast enough, you will lose the property. This means having all the necessary finances accessible in the USA and the right paperwork ready for the application.

7. Find the right agent

The rental market is more complex than anywhere else in the USA, so using the right agent is important. If you can get a recommendation, that is the best place to start. Your employer may have a preferred and trusted agent. Otherwise, the Real Estate Board of New York is a good place to look for a reputable agent. A good agent will know what rental apartments are available or will become available, understand the individual application procedures and actively hunt for properties that suit your criteria.

8. Apply for your place

You will have to apply for most rental properties, and it’s a competitive procedure. Many of the larger buildings will be run as cooperatives, where the board of the building approve all future residents, whether buyers or tenants. The review process is comprehensive to ensure you are the right fit for the building.

The application fee for a cooperative building or a condo is around $150 upwards. Your agent can help with the application process and what they are looking for.

9. Get your paperwork ready

To secure a rental, you will need quite a bit of paperwork. This includes all your new employment information, such as your role, salary, expected bonuses, any relocation bonuses or benefits, and a contract stating the length of your employment. You will also need to provide bank account details, credit card numbers, proof of any additional income, personal ID, bank statements, tax returns and a credit report. You may need to provide references, a letter from your bank or further evidence of your financial situation, particularly for those without a US credit history.

10. Read the lease carefully

The lease may include certain caveats about pets, noise and use of facilities, so be sure to read it carefully. For example, double check whether some facilities are only available to property owners, rather than tenants, or whether additional fees are payable to grant access. The lease should stipulate what utilities are included and what communal fees are payable.

If you’re moving to the USA, find out how our international removals team can help to arrange packing, storage and transportation on your behalf.

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