Searching for an Apartment in New York

Off campus housing in NYCRenting an apartment in New York is much different than it is in most states. It is very important when searching for an apartment that you be prepared and do your homework before selecting the place you’re going to live for the next year or more. While you may want to search way in advance, you will find that most vacancies are not posted any earlier than 30 days prior to move-in date. It is suggested that you plan a two to four week period, prior to move in date, when searching for an apartment.

In the meantime, you can begin preparing yourself for the process by taking a look at neighborhoods, reviewing market data, and looking over current listings to get an idea of what to expect. Take some time to review the information provided on this site regarding Tenant Rights and Resources. It’s also a good idea to write down questions in advance that you may want to ask when looking at apartments. Suggested questions might be:

  • Are utilities included in the rent?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • Is pest extermination an additional expense or a service provided by the building management?
  • Does the superintendent live on site? If not, is one available by phone?
  • How close are the nearest police and fire stations?
  • Are the buildings and surrounding areas well lit at night?
  • How close is the building to high traffic, well-traveled areas?
  • Is there a security system in the building?
  • Does the building have a doorman or buzzer system for guests and deliveries?
  • Are the locks on the doors of the building and the space adequately secure?
  • Is there a peephole in the door to see who is there?
  • Are there enough working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the living space and hallways?
  • Are there adequate emergency escape routes in case of fire?
  • What is the area’s crime rate? (Statistics of reported crimes can be obtained by visiting the local police precinct website)

Financial requirements for renting an apartment in New York

Most landlords require that you have annual income 40 to 50 times the monthly rent. For example, if the monthly rent is $2,000, you would need to show income of at least $80,000 per year. If you don’t meet the requirement, you may be able to qualify to rent if you can provide income from other sources, such as roommates, or a guarantor. A guarantor is usually a parent, relative or friend who agrees to pay the landlord in the event you fail to make any payments under the lease.

In the other boroughs (Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island) or in New Jersey or Long Island, most landlords will require less income, approximately 30 to 35 times the amount of the monthly rent. Roommate/Shares and Sublets may require less income as well.

Landlords may accept roommates combined incomes to determine financial qualifications for an apartment. If the rent is $2,000, the landlord would typically want to see a total income of $80,000. If both roommates earn at least $40,000 annually, they could combine their incomes in order to qualify for an apartment. If this is not permitted, you will be asked to provide a guarantor or lease co-signer, a person who accepts financial liability in the event you or your roommate fails to pay the rent.

Generally landlords require guarantors earn 75 to 100 times the rent in annual income. This means that for a $2,000 apartment, a guarantor must show income of at least $150,000 to $200,000. Most landlords require that the guarantor live in the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut) and will ask for the same documentation as the renter.

Tenant Rights and Resources for Off-Campus Housing in New York