As a first-time apartment renter in NYC, the logistics of locking down an apartment are notoriously challenging. There's always room for brushing up! This guide will walk you through the five mistakes that first-time renters make and how you can avoid them to track down the best deals.
Let's say that you found a neighborhood in Manhattan that you see yourself living in. It has all your favorite coffee shops, bookstores, and restaurants. However, when you're renting an apartment, there are other things about the neighborhood you must research. These include whether you need to pay a Homeowner's Association Fee, the kind of apartment you're renting - rental, co-op, or condominium - and what is the closest subway station.
As of April 2021, the pandemic has softened the city's infamously high rents. For instance, in Manhattan, the median rents are recorded at an all-time low since 2010 at $2,700 per month. This is good news for first-time apartment renters in NYC who could not afford apartments before!
However, renting an apartment in NYC still requires tenants to be ready to pay a lot of money upfront. You will be required to pay a security deposit to lock down the apartment, broker's fees, HOA fees (depending on your neighborhood), and the first month's rent, to name just a few expenses.
Brokers fees can be hefty - a one-time payment sits between 12-15% of the annual lease amount. But think of brokers as the gatekeepers to the best available units in NYC. They take up the hassle of reviewing your lease and negotiating deals with your landlord, as well as protecting you from bait and switch schemes!
We recommend saving up to 4 months' worth of rent before moving to NYC. This lump sum should roughly cover moving costs, the first month's utilities, transportation fares, broker's fee, and taxes.
Evaluating your credit score is one of the most important factors in renting an apartment because it determines your approval process. Before starting on a city-wide hunt for an apartment, run your credit report first! This should be relatively easy to do and is often free through your credit card. Many renters may lose their apartments over something minimal and correctable, like a parking ticket or a medical bill.
TIP: Order your free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com!
We know that first-time apartment renters in NYC are wary of putting all their eggs in one basket with the competitive market. Nonetheless, applying to too many apartments simultaneously can have the opposite effect! This is because landlords can see how many times you've run your credit specifically for housing.
Landlords also tend to view multiple applications negatively because the message that comes across is that you have been rejected multiple times. For this reason, running your credit multiple times within a short time period will deter landlords from seeing you as a serious renter.
You've tackled all the above and found the apartment of your dreams. Bravo! But, the process isn't over yet. You need to carefully review your apartment lease to avoid being legally bound to a contract that does not serve you.
This step also includes inspecting your apartment thoroughly and alerting the landlord to any repairs or fixes they are contractually bound to carry out. For example, if your landlord has promised a deep clean of the apartment before your arrival, make sure you lock down that promise in writing.
Your apartment lease also contains information about deal-breaking conditions, such as past bed bug infestations. If you miss out on reviewing these, you might land yourself in an uninhabitable home without realizing it!
Happy apartment hunting!