How much space do you need? In Manhattan, apartments are usually listed by the number of rooms or Bedrooms. There are many different terms to describe styles and layouts, so you need to familiarize yourself with apartment and building terminology.
What is the most you can or should spend on your apartment? Consider salary guidelines (see “Income Requirements”) to which Landlords/property owners generally follow. Prices change frequently based on supply and demand, as well as determined by size, location, and availability. Be honest about your budget and focus on getting the most apartment by understating your monthly limit and the market you are looking in.
New York City consists of many different neighborhoods, all with unique property characteristics and architectural styles. Think carefully about the value of the property, commuting time, access to mass transit, and proximity to services that are important to you, such as shops, restaurants, and parks. With apartment hunting, it’s good to have a few areas in mind to begin your search. Weinman International Real Estate, Inc. will compile and show you options within the criteria you set but keep your options open. The more flexible you can be, the better your chances of finding an apartment you like.
Apartments for rent are usually listed on a 30-day cycle, ranging in availability from immediate to about 1 month out. Consider carefully, and consult with us as to what might work best based on your needs.
Rental Procedures and Requirements
Owners and Landlords, based on both their respective policies and depending on applicable law, will typically require prospective tenants document they earn anywhere from 40 to 45 times the monthly rent. This is verified by obtaining a Verification of Employment Letter on Company Letterhead and signed by a representative of the firm you are working for. This letter should contain the annual base salary, bonuses, relocation allowance, tenure with the firm, along with the direct contact information of the person providing the letter.
What You Will Need to Rent in NY
In addition to having the Verification of Employment letter, it is highly recommended that you have the following handy and easily accessible PRIOR to commencing the search:
- Social Security Number
- Passport/Visa info where applicable (Typically for Applicants who are Relocating from overseas and do not have a Social Security # or U.S. Credit).
- Current Address/Phone Number
- Current Rent/Mortgage Payment
- Previous Address
- Current Landlord’s Name/Phone Number
- Name of Previous Employer, Address/Phone Number and Contact Person to verify.
- Total Other Household Income
- Names of Additional Residents
- Last 2 month’s Bank Statements
- Last 2 years Tax Returns (even if not in U.S.) or Accountant/CPA Name/Phone Number.
- Funds available for the Transaction: The amounts you will typically need to present upon approval and lease signing are: **First month’s rent & Security deposit (customarily 1 month’s rent).
** Application Fee, Processing Fee, Move-In/Move-Out Fee, Move-In/Move-Out Deposits ($150-$750+ for condos and co-ops).
**Brokerage Commission (This can range anywhere from 12-15% of the First Year’s Rent).
The brokerage commission, first month’s rent, security deposit and sometimes even other fees related to Condo’s and Co-ops are typically due via certified funds, therefore it is important to have such funds in a financial institution where you can obtain such…Some Landlords accept rent & security via wire transfer/ACH Payment and we will confirm such at the appropriate time.
Credit Check-Good credit is required; explanations for minor deviations will most probably be accepted, however, please advise us should you have any issues prior to commencing the search, as it will assist us in ascertaining if the landlord will have an issue or not. We highly recommend you review your credit report PRIOR to commencing the search. Having no U.S. Credit History is sometimes a challenge, however, Weinman International has extensive experience placing clients without U.S. Credit.
Approval Requirements differ depending on the landlord/management company and/or on the building. The following are general guidelines that apply in most instances:
If you think your credit report is bad, advise your real new york broker so they can prepare you for the application process. Landlords/management companies have different ways of dealing with credit problems.
Some landlords/management companies allow renters to increase security deposit while others require a guarantor. Some may simply reject the application. Your REAL New York broker will advise you in order to save you time, money and frustration.
- Renters need to show income of at least 40-50 times monthly rent.
- Rent should be 25% of renters’ annual income. Ex: annual income = $100,000, rent $25,000 per year.
- Renters must show a secure and stable employment history.
- Renters need to have a good credit history. A major component of the approval process is based on the credit report.
- What makes a credit report bad?
- A couple of old late payments are usually ok.
- High revolving balances are not good.
- Past due payments that are outstanding are bad.
- Delinquencies and collections are very bad.
- A public record (a day in court) is bad
- A Landlord-Tenant record is very bad.
- Renters must show a good rental history.
- Rental, credit and employment information is generally referenced and submitted in the form of a letter or sometimes by a phone call.
- Renters need to have a social security number. If you do not have a social security number or are not applying for one you must have a guarantor co-signing your lease.
- Bank Statements: In most cases, landlords/management companies require copies of renters’ 3 most recent bank statements from a checking, savings, stock account or any other financial institution.
- Renter should have backup detail sheets available upon request.
- Most rent application forms require listing bank account information.
- Letter of Employment: Renter should get a Letter of Employment on their company’s letterhead, with the following:
- Length of employment
- Annual income.
- In the majority of cases, an offer or an acceptance letter for a new position is not sufficient to show employment.
- Letter of Landlord Reference: Letter of reference from a previous landlord is one of the most important reference letters a renter can submit to a landlord/management company who is processing their application.
- Pay Stubs: copies of renters’ 3 most recent pay stubs are usually required.
- Students need to have a guarantor co-sign their lease.
- Certain buildings won’t accept students. This is legal in NY State and not challengeable in a court or law.
- Tax Returns: Some landlords and some management companies require potential renters to include a copy of their most recent Federal Tax Return (1040).
- Renters should have their tax return available just in case it is required.
- Self-employed renters: if income comes from different sources, you will be required to submit tax returns and a letter from a CPA stating the nature of your business, as well as, projected future income.
- Business owners looking to rent are almost always required to submit a tax return.
- If renters do not meet the above-mentioned criteria there are usually two possible solutions:
- Renters can get a co-signer or guarantor to co-sign the lease for you.
- Some owners will allow tenants to prepay 6 months to 12 months’ rent upfront.
- Guarantor or co-signer: A guarantor or co-signer is a person who guarantees the entire rent for the entire lease term and lease renewals should a renter default on their rent payments. A guarantor can be anyone who agrees to sign on behalf of a renter and who is willing qualified to act as a guarantor.
- Qualifications of a guarantor or co-signer: documents required from a guarantor are similar to applicant(s):
- Application Form: Same form as the applicant fills out.
- Credit Report: A guarantor’s credit report must be in good standing.
- Federal Tax Returns: A guarantor is required to submit federal tax returns as proof of income.
- Guarantors must show an annual income of 80-100 times monthly rent.
- A Guarantor is not required to be present at lease signing.
One month’s rent is the usual amount for a security deposit, typically payable at the signing of the lease with the first month’s rent and fee if required. You will need a bank check, money order, or certified check. If you abide by the terms of the lease and leave the apartment in the same condition it was at the beginning of the lease period (except for normal wear and tear) the total security deposit will be refunded. Landlords, regardless of the number of units in the building, must treat the deposits as trust funds belonging to their ten¬ants and they may not co-mingle deposits with their own mon¬ey. Landlords of buildings with six or more apartments must put all security deposits in New York bank accounts earning interest at the prevailing rate. Each tenant must be informed in writing of the bank’s name and address and the amount of the deposit.
Leases and Lease Terms
Most landlords and building owners use the standard form of an apartment lease, and if you rent an apartment that is “rent-stabilized,” you are protected by New York City rent stabilization laws, (tenants have certain renewal options, and increases are regulated by the city.) If you feel that there is a great likelihood that you will be transferred before your lease period expires, tell your agent BEFORE you begin your search, as it may be possible to negotiate a lease break clause, allowing you to leave with minimum penalties. The chances of negotiating this clause are slim but depend on the state
of the rental market at the time.
One to six floors. No doorman. Built-in the late 1800s and early 1900s as single-family homes.
Beginning in the ’60s, many were converted to create multiple apartments (3-10 units per building.) Brownstones, which are predominantly found on side streets, have “charm,” architectural detail, and in some cases, wood-burning fireplaces. Square footage is generally less than a similar room/bedroom count in a Doorman “Pre-War” or “Post-War” building.
Typically six to twenty stories; many are found on side streets.
These are typically 4 to 10 story buildings and are usually Former commercial/warehouse / light manufacturing buildings converted to apartments. Commonly attain large open space. Usually an elevator (sometimes a freight elevator) but no doorman service. Most are found in lower Manhattan in SoHo, Tribeca, Flatiron or Chelsea.
Luxury Door Man
Twenty to forty or more floors and a twenty-four-hour doorman. The more luxurious buildings also have a concierge that provides services such as receiving laundry and packages. Some of these buildings have a health club and/or swimming pool.
Ten to twenty floors. Doorman or non-doorman. Built-in the late 1800s to 1940s. Exterior and interior architectural detailing. Common features include high ceilings, hardwood floors, arched doorways, or fireplaces. Most are co-ops (ownership is through the purchase of shares of the corporation).
Built from 1946 through today. Exteriors are usually white, red, or brown brick. Usually less expensive than pre-war. Long corridors with many apartments per landing. Eight-foot ceilings, big closets, and small kitchens. Laundry facilities are usually in the basement.
Up to five floors. No elevator or doorman. Originally built as multi-family housing, this is one of the cheapest apartment options. Sometimes called “railroad flats,” these apartments can also be very charming compared to newer buildings.
Rental Apartment Categories
These are buildings totally owned in whole by a landlord and devoted strictly to rental apartments. You can expect to fill out an application, pay for a credit check, and your approval could come through as quickly as the same day, or within a week. One month’s rent is usually all that is needed for a security deposit.
Condo Mi Niums
In condominium buildings, the apartments are owned by individuals, not a single landlord. Apartments are occupied by residents who either live there full-time or part-time or apartments that have been purchased by individuals as investment properties, which are rented out for as long as the owner wishes. The owner has the right to decide the amount of rent and security, as well as the length of the lease. Expect there to be additional fees, such as processing, move-in/move out and sometimes even move-in/move-out deposits. As in co-ops (below) some condominiums might also require extensive paperwork as part of the application process and subject to “Right of First Refusal by the Board of Manager/Directors.” Expect the overall time for final approval to be anywhere from one week to even one month.
In cooperative buildings, individuals own shares in an overall corporation (not real property). The number of shares owned is based on the size and worth of the apartment. Since the building is technically owned by a corporation, there are likely to be many restrictions governing the usage of the apartments by the individual residents. When renting in a Co-Op, it requires a prospective tenant to apply to the co-op board, agreeing to provide detailed financial information and a personal interview before the sublet is approved. Expect there to be additional fees, such as processing, move-in/move out fees and sometimes even move-in/move-out deposits. As in Condominiums (above), there will likely be extensive paperwork as part of the application process and subject to “Right of First Refusal by the Board of Directors.” Expect the overall time for final approval to be anywhere from one week to even one month. Also important to note is that Co-Op by-laws typically do not allow a shareholder to rent their unit longer than two years, so be prepared to move after such time.
Furnished Apartments (Short and Long Term)
Furnished apartments can be found for as little as a few months and as long as several years. Short term furnished rentals come with televisions, phones, bed linens, kitchen equipment and is designed especially for corporate clients. If you need a furnished apartment for a year and depending on your budget along with market conditions, you may want to consider an unfurnished apartment and rent furniture, as you will most likely pay a premium for the furnishings.
Tips for Apartment Hunters
- Be professionally dressed to meet the owner
- Observe all aspects of the neighborhood…shopping, playgrounds, bus, and subway stops, etc.
- Check plumbing, appliances, water pressure, type of heating, air conditioning, and electrical outlets whenever possible
- Consider the floor plan in regard to your furniture, location of TV hookups, phone jacks, windows, etc.
- Check closets, cabinets, and storage space
- Enquire about storage rooms for tenants
- Note locations of windows, exposures
- Review parking arrangements & cost
- Check laundry facilities (Laundry Room, Fitness Center, Tenant Lounge, Roof-Deck, etc.)