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How to Rent

A New York City Apartment

STEP 1: Work with a broker, or do it yourself?

How to find a no-fee rental apartment

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There are a number of ways to find a no-fee rental in New York City. Usually it's a combination of legwork and luck. Sometimes it's a matter of budget: If you can afford to rent in one of the bigger, luxury-style apartment buildings, you'll find that many have their own leasing offices where you can rent directly without paying a broker.

Here's how to find a no fee rental:

Tap your personal networks

Use every resource at your disposal--Facebook, Twitter, alumni networks, company bulletin boards, etc.--to let the world at large know what type of apartment you're looking for, ideal neighborhoods, and your budget.  

Do they know of any availabilities in their building? Do they have any friends or relatives who own apartments or work for management companies?  Do they know anyone who will be moving soon, so that you can either approach the landlord directly for an assignment of the lease, or sublet to the end of the leaseterm and then negotiate a new lease with the landlord rather than going through a broker?

Ask your contacts to repost your request to their own networks too.

Search the right websites

There are a number of websites that publish no-fee listings received directly from landlords and management companies.  For more info, see The 8 Best Websites for Finding a No-Fee Apartment.  

Dial for dollars

Get hold of a list of management firms that deal directly with renters (like this one) and call each one for upcoming availabilities. 

Hit the streets

Put on your most comfortable walking shoes and hit the streets of your desired neighborhoods, looking for "for rent" signs and chatting up doormen at rental buildings, dog owners at the local dog run, and pretty much anyone else you run into who might have a lead on a suitable apartment or a building. For inspiration, "How I Found My No-Fee Apartment."