Mistakes to avoid if you’re renting in NYC for the first time.
The rental process here is an incredibly confusing one, and it’s normal for first-timers to get overwhelmed. There are strict income requirements to satisfy and if you’ve never signed a lease before — and lack work or credit history or a track record of being a responsible renter — it’s even harder to get an apartment. Even longtime New Yorkers — seasoned tenants who have lived in multiple boroughs and have dealt with dozens of landlords and brokers — can improve upon the experience of renting an apartment.
There’s been a major shift in the NYC rental market because of the pandemic, and that shift means new renters will find more favorable conditions than in previous years. Rents are dropping and there has been an increase in the vacancy rate, and to keep up with the new market landlords are offering concessions (Months Free, No fee) in order to get tenants to sign a lease.
Mistake №1: Insufficient funds
Qualifying for a starter rental in NYC can be more difficult than getting an apartment elsewhere. You must earn an annual salary equal to (or greater than) 40x the monthly rent.
Mistake №2: Missing Paperwork
Before you start looking, get your paperwork together. If you find the apartment of your dreams, you will lose it if you need to take three days to get all of your documents together. Trust me: I see it happening all the time.
This is what you need:
- Government-issued photo ID (a clear picture from your phone is best)
- Letter of employment; or offer letter; or from a CPA if self-employed that states your annual income
- Three most recent bank statements (summary pages only)
- Three most recent pay stubs
- Two most recent tax returns (first two pages only)
- Application fee, which is limited to $20 per person(non-refundable)
- Current landlord reference letter (if available, or explain if no prior rentals)
- Renters insurance (sometimes required)
- Refundable security deposit (limited to the equivalent of one month’s rent).
Mistake №3: No credit history/Not having a good credit
This is crucial! For overseas renters, be aware that credit history in another country doesn’t transfer to the U.S., and guarantors are required to be in the tri-state area. Alternatively, this is another situation that can be solved by using a personal guarantor or an institutional guarantor like Insurent and The Guarantors. (I work with a lot of international clients and most building in NYC accept these 2 nowadays)
Mistake №4: Unrealistic expectations
Before you actually start apartment hunting, do an online research and understand the market. Understand and know things such as how much the size of an apartment will cost you in x neighborhood as compared to y neighborhood and how much it will cost with certain, desired amenities. It’s really hard to find a property that check all of your boxes, specially if you’re moving from another state where you could get way more space and amenities for less money. The tip is — Try to find an apartment that checks off your top three boxes, like location, square footage, the quality of a building, or a doorman, all while staying within your budget.
Beatriz Moitinho is a Real Estate Salesperson, specialized in Luxury Real Estate and a Productivity Coach at Keller Williams New York.