5 facts about renting in NYC that only insiders know

Share this Article

For those of us who've been renting for a while in this city, we pick up new lessons with each new place. Behold, five commandments of renting a Manhattan apartment — from someone who's been there many times.

  1. A “two-bedroom” isn’t always a two-bedroom: If there’s no window, it’s not a real bedroom. If you need two bedrooms, be sure to tell your broker you only want to look at true two-bedroom apartments—ones that have a window in each room.
  2. Be wary of these words—“duplex," “cozy” and “charming: “Duplex” is usually a code word for a unit with an odd layout and no real living space (if you're on a budget). Oftentimes one of the floors is below ground level, too. And anything listed as “cozy” or “charming” is tiny and/or ancient.
  3. Prepare to pay a broker’s fee: While there are no-fee apartments out there, they can be hard to find. Chances are you’re going to have to pay a broker’s fee, so just suck it up and do it (though you can often negotiate down a few percentage points — see below). Also, don’t limit yourself to a single broker. Other agents could have exclusives you might love, so play the real estate field, as it were.
  4. Always negotiate: It never hurts to try and talk down the price of your rent or your broker’s fee. We've always been able to get a little bit knocked off. It might not work — especially during summer high season — but you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t at least try.
  5. Have all necessary documentation in order: If you don’t have your tax forms and your employer’s letter at the ready, some other potential renter who does have all papers on hand could swoop in and rent the place out from underneath you.

For more, read “10 Commandments of a New York City Rental Search.” 

In Case You Missed It: Every so often, BrickUnderground digs through the archives to find the best advice our experts have shared through the years.


Moving to NYC? Here’s a crash course in finding an apartment here

How to rent a NYC apartment