Renting in NYC is unlike anywhere else. Here's why

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How much total do you plan to tip the building staff this year?

There are certain things about the New York City rental market that are truly unique. Take it from those of us who've been in it for a while, there are certain things you need to know that are anything but intuitive. A sampling below:

  • Seasons matter, as does the time of the month: Since recent grads come here in droves following commencement, rents in the spring and summer months tend to be at the highest levels of the year. Try pushing off your move to fall or winter, or at least scheduling moving day for the middle of the month when moving companies tend to have less business and may offer you a discount.
  • Broker’s fees are hard to avoid, not so hard to negotiate: Here in NYC, if a listing doesn’t specifically say “no fee,” chances are there’s a broker’s fee—usually anywhere from an extra month of rent up to 15 percent of a year’s rent. (But note that it isn’t impossible to find a no-fee apartment. You just have to be prepared to do the work required to find it. Techniques include calling management companies directly, looking in new developments and searching websites chock-full of no-fee listings.) And most brokers are willing to negotiate on a fee if you're a qualified applicant. Don't expect half price, but you can likely knock down a percentage point or two (especially during slower months).
  • Listings lie: Don’t believe everything you read. Harlem becomes the Upper West Side; a convertible two-bedroom is really a one-bedroom with a (window-less) office. To get a real sense of a unit, look at floor plans, Google the address and read up on neighborhood blogs to understand what the place is really like.
  • You probably can’t build a wall: Many folks in NYC can only afford their apartment’s crazy-high rent because they add temporary walls galore and cram more people into less space. But fewer and fewer buildings these days allow such walls due to safety concerns. Always check with your broker or management company before doing anything.
  • You’ll need a guarantor: Most landlords require that tenants earn a yearly salary of 40-50 times the monthly rent. If you don’t, they’ll want a guarantor who lives in the tri-state area and makes 80-100 times the rent. But don’t panic if you can’t find a guarantor, some landlords will accept a higher security deposit or pre-payment of a year’s rent.

For more, read “5 Ways Renting in NYC is Unlike Anywhere Else.” 

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.


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