There is an old expression, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Our experience has taught us that people who "do their homework" by spending time familiarizing themselves with the rental process and make the necessary preparations have the most success and the easiest time. There are several steps to best prepare yourself for the unique challenges of renting an apartment in New York. Two of these are especially crucial: 1.) Gather the proper documentation. Many people have missed an opportunity to live in their dream apartment because time was wasted chasing down the proper paperwork. 2.) Discuss your financial and pet situation with your agent. You’ll save both time and energy if, for example, you bring a bad credit history or a 75 pound dog to your agent's attention at the beginning.
Below is a step-by-step guide on renting an apartment in New York, we hope you find it useful.
1. CALL Citi Relocation AND ASK TO SPEAK TO AN IN-BOUND COUNSELOR
The counselor will help you determine when to come to New York to begin your apartment search. The counselor will conduct a comprehensive assessment to establish your needs, determine a budget, and set up a time frame for your search. On average, apartments in doorman buildings are available to view by perspective tenants and their agents thirty days (30) prior to the expiration of the current tenant's lease. The time frame for viewing potential, non-doorman apartments, tends to be less, anywhere from two weeks to a few days prior to future occupancy. If you attempt to begin your housing search too early, you will invariably find that your viewable housing options are extremely limited.
2. GATHER THE PROPER DOCUMENTATION AND INFORMATION
Whether applying for an apartment in a Rental, Co-op or Condo, you will most likely need the following documentation. If you assume that there are no exceptions to the items on these lists, you will have the documentation needed to apply for virtually any apartment in Manhattan.
If you have yet to open a New York City bank account or do not have a social security number, let your agent know in advance of your arrival. In cases where you are applying for an apartment in a condo or co-op, be prepared to present a complete description of your assets and liabilities. (Citi Relocation discourages individuals with a lack of United States residency or credit history from applying for an apartment in a co-op.)
3. MEET WITH YOUR Citi Relocation AGENT AND BEGIN YOUR APARTMENT SEARCH
Appointments generally take anywhere from fifteen minutes to several hours. We recommend planning on spending two hours on each appointment. This schedule will allow you enough time to view a good number of apartments without fatiguing yourself. It might take one appointment to find your apartment, it might take a couple.
4. APPLY FOR THE APARTMENT OF YOUR CHOOSING
Once you find a home that suits you, you must fill out an application, submit documentation, and pay application fees. If there are any negotiation of terms, your agent will oversee this process.
If you are bringing a pet along, your apartment choices will be limited. The majority of landlords in Manhattan do not allow dogs. Some allow cats but not dogs; some allow one dog only. Certain landlords have a weight requirement for dogs, usually 20 pounds or less. It may also depend on the breed and temperament of the dog. If you plan on keeping a pet, please notify your agent prior to your apartment search so they can screen out the buildings that do not accept pets. We strongly discourage you from moving an animal into a building if the policy prohibits pets, as you will jeopardize your tenancy rights.
Typical Application Fees
5. SIGN LEASES, PRESENT CHECKS, SET A MOVE-IN DATE
Rent, security, and any brokerage fees are due at lease signing in the form of certified funds. Citi Relocation has the ability to provide you with certified funds if requested. You may wire your funds into our account and we will present bank checks on your behalf. Notify your banker of this possibility in advance. Funds wired internationally can take up to a week before they are accessible here in the U.S. Citi Relocation will also accept your charge card for payment of rent / security and provide those funds to your new landlord. (When using your credit card, there will be an additional 3% service charge.) When you have received official approval you will need to arrange for a move-in date with your landlord or possibly with the building superintendent. This process may involve reserving a service elevator. Keep in mind that move-ins are generally limited to Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM.
The bottom line is that renting an apartment in New York City is a different experience than anywhere else in the world. The process, requirements, and timing are all unique, so it is advised that you leave all other rental experiences "at the door" and be prepared for something brand new. But just because it is different does not mean it has to be difficult or unpleasant. Renting an apartment in New York is an adventure, and as with any adventure, if you're prepared, you'll be able to handle and even appreciate the unexpected with grace.