A gruelling process that I probably can’t comment on too much after finding an apartment after only 3 days of hunting…that being said I still discovered some pro tips for finding a rental property in NYC:
- Brokers Fees - first thing to be aware of is that going through an agent will cost you. Generally a brokers fee is 15% of the annual rent so as you can imagine it becomes quite pricey. They will also try and offer deals like a months rent free, which at the time may bring the monthly rent into your price range…but remember this is only for the first year. It is difficult to completely avoid brokers in the process, they list on no fee websites only to tell you there is a fee when you view the place, just make sure you’re aware of all the costs involved up front.
- Documentation - come prepared, especially if like us you have just moved from overseas and don’t have a credit rating in the US. References from previous landlords, character references and an employment letter can help. It seems money will help the most though, one landlord wanted three months rent as a security deposit! You should be looking at paying the first months rent plus one month rent as security, which is pretty normal anywhere, and a brokers fee if you’ve chosen this route. In a lot of cases rent is paid by cheque here, so when you open your bank account it’s best to order a cheque book just in case, they take a few weeks to arrive.
- Inclusions/Exclusions - generally heating and water will be included in the rent, which means you will only have gas and other amenities like internet to cover. When a new person takes over an apartment the gas is always turned off and a safety inspection must be completed to get it re-connected. In most older apartments heating is controlled by the building, try and find out what the temperature is set at, and while air conditioning units don’t tend to be included they aren’t expensive to buy. Apartments generally don’t come with curtains and seem to always come with a fridge.
- Expect Anything - from places being completely unlike the photos, to current tenants laying on the bed while you view the apartment, or being driven around in a strangers car, I truly mean expect anything. And, while safety always comes first, I wish I hadn’t been so nervous coming into this process, you just have to take everything as it comes and realise that…well I guess that it’s New York!
My best websites for no broker fee listings:
We found our new home through an owner advertised listing on Craigslist and are extremely lucky to have such lovely landlords that trust us and have been so helpful with everything through this whole process.
Just remember, don’t be pressured into anything, yes demand is high in New York but with high demand comes a huge amount of choice. So if you persevere you are bound to find the right apartment for you…good luck!