Finding an Apartment: The Process

Finding an apartment in NYC is actually a quick-ish process, and while it has the potential to be stressful, it can also be really fun and exciting. Have an open mind and stay positive. Remember that there are endless resources you can use to find an apartment and the process outlined below is by no means the only approach. We hope it's informative and a good starting point nonetheless. Happy hunting!

1. Do your research. AKA talk to people who live or have lived in NYC and search through different apartment rental websites to gauge pricing and familiarize yourself with neighborhoods. We suggest checking out Naked Apartments , Apartable, Padmapper, Street Easy, Zillow, and Craigslist.

  • Naked Apartments - Lots of cool features letting you search by neighborhood. Also has tons of info on the search itself (think important documents, checklists, budget suggestions, etc.). Spend some time sifting through their treasure trove of intel.
  • Apartable - Full database of no fee apartments in the city. BONUS - you can look up a specific building and find all the management details and building violations.
  • Padmapper - Lets you search for apartments via a giant map. To narrow results down to no-fee listings only, click "Show More Filters" at the bottom left of the screen, and then check off the "no-fee" box next to "Require."
  • Street Easy / Zillow - Pretty standard
  • Craigslist - Filter for no fee. You can find great stuff here, also you can find not great stuff. Be careful.
  • TeacherSpace - Housing for teachers on a tight schedule and budget
  • Roomeze - Helps you find a roommate

2. Contact the appropriate person by phone or email so you can visit / learn more about the apartment. Info regarding the contact person will be included in the apartment listing. You might contact a landlord (owner of apartment), a super (person hired by landlord to help out with apartment logistics/maintenance) or a broker (an outside representative who arranges the completion of a lease). Brokers typically charge an extra fee (which can be negotiable!), but they can be incredibly helpful.

3. Visit the apartments (or have your roommate visit). Try to arrange more than one apartment viewing in a day. Bring measuring tape and take notes so you can chat afterwards and compare.

4. Apply for the apartment you like. Note: sometimes there is an application fee.

5. Wait...

6. Hear good news

7. Move in! Or rinse, wash, repeat (but in most cases, it's move in).

Paperwork To Have On Hand

For each roommate, create two copies of everything below. Divide them into two envelopes, and bring the envelopes to your apartment visits. IT'S OK if you do not have every single one of these documents with you, but it is important to know that landlords may ask for them.

  • ID: copies of driver's license, state ID, or passport
  • Letter of Employment: stating occupation, title, income, and length of occupation, or anticipated start date. *Blue Engine will send this to you electronically.
  • Two Tax Returns: copies of the first two pages and any page with your signature
  • Two W2 Forms: copies of your last two W2s
  • Two Pay Stubs: copies of your last two pay stubs
  • Two Bank Statements: copies of your two most recent bank statements

May want to have:

  • Name, addresses and phone numbers of previous landlords
  • Two personal reference letters

Potential Fee$

Broker Fee: Sometimes Brokers charge applicants for their service (usually it's a months' rent). This is often negotiable and you should definitely negotiate. When searching for apartments, filter for "no fee" to avoid this.

Application Fees: Usually between $50 and $150 per roommate. If you're using a guarantor, they often have to pay the fee as well. Sometimes there is no application fee.

First Month's Rent: The landlord will ask you to pay your first month's rent during lease signing.

Last Month's Rent: The landlord may require your last month's rent during lease signing.

Security Deposit: If you're considered a riskier tenant, the landlord may ask you to put down one or more additional month's rent as a security deposit. If there are no issues throughout your time in the apartment (no damage, rent payment problems, etc.), you will get your security deposit back once you're no longer leasing the apartment.

The Guarantor

What's a Guarantor?

Guarantors are financially and legally obligated to pay your rent if you fail to pay.

Why would I need a Guarantor?

Anytime you might not meet the landlord's requirements, a guarantor may be required. For example, if your income isn't enough, if you have bad credit, or if you have no rental history, a guarantor might help you qualify for the apartment you want. Now, not all landlords allow OR REQUIRE guarantors, so just be sure to ask about this.

Guarantors' income

Guarantors are required to make at least 50 to 100 times the monthly rent. (If your rent is $2,000 per month, a guarantor needs to make $100,000 to $200,000 per year.)

Necessary guarantor documents

A guarantor needs to provide the same documents as a renter: two pay stubs, two bank statements, one or two tax returns, and a letter from his or her employer. If the guarantor owns his or her own business, a certified public accountant (CPA) must provide a letter stating the guarantor's income.

Asking someone to be a guarantor

In the past, BETAs have asked parents or other relatives to be guarantors. The more details you provide the potential guarantor, the easier the process will be. There are a lot of examples on line that guide folks when they're making this ask.

Guarantor Services - Insurent

If you need a guarantor but don't have a rich uncle with a sack of gold, try Insurent, a guarantor service. Insurent requires an income of 27.5 times the monthly rent and a good credit history . To act as your guarantor, they'll charge you 75 to 80 percent of one month's rent upfront.

Neighborhood Guide

Neighborhood Guide

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