Rent

The advantages and disadvantages of renting a house in NYC

  • Some NYC houses rent for less than $5,000 a month
  • You get suburban-style outdoor space, privacy, and parking
  • Taking out the trash, raking leaves, and shoveling snow are on you
By Austin Havens-Bowen | October 5, 2022 - 1:30PM

You'll have more space and privacy—and more responsibilites as a renter.

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Are you thinking of renting a house in New York City? It makes sense if you’re looking to upgrade from an apartment in order to get more space. It’s also a good option if you want to test out what it’s like to maintain a house before buying one here or in the suburbs.

You get a lot of perks when you rent a house as opposed to an apartment—but also a lot more responsibility. If you've come to rely on a super—you'll have to get used to taking out your own trash and recycling and keeping your sidewalk clear—that means dealing with leaves and snow. Plus you'll have to take more active role in managing repairs. You may pay more rent each month, depending on what neighborhood you want to live in.

What kind of houses are available to rent in NYC? You can find a variety of architecture styles like townhouses, row houses, and single-family detached houses. For example, townhouses usually have private outdoor space but don't typically have driveways while single-family detached houses often have both. Rents for townhouses in Manhattan and some prime Brooklyn neighborhoods can run tens of thousands of dollars a month (or much more). For more affordable houses to rent, check out farther flung neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, where some houses are available for less than $5,000 a month—making them cheaper than apartments in many cases.

Keep reading for the advantages and disadvantages of renting a house in NYC.

What are the advantages of renting a house?

More privacy and outdoor space are two main advantages of renting a house in NYC, says Kunal Khemlani, a broker at Corcoran. This might be a patio, terrace, or even a backyard. But that outdoor space means doing your own yard work. (More about that later!)

Another perk is that you might get your private parking, he says. It might be a driveway or a place with its own garage. This can save you a lot of money because you won’t have to pay extra for a parking space like you do at many apartment buildings, or risk damage or theft by parking on the street.

Rebecca Blacker, a broker at Coldwell Banker Warburg, says you might have fewer rules for certain things in a house compared to an apartment. The owner might offer a lease that's shorter or longer than the standard 12 to 18 months, or be more lenient when it comes to having pets like dogs, she says. Many apartment buildings have stricter policies on these things.

Are you sensitive to noise? Do you play a musical instrument? If so, you might not want someone living above or below you, so a house might be better for you, Blacker says.

What are the disadvantages of renting a house? 

You’re going to have a lot more responsibility when it comes to maintenance in a house compared to an apartment. You won’t have a doorman, super, or maintenance team to take care of things like you do in apartment buildings.

That means you will have a lot more work to do each day that you might not be used to, Blacker says. You will now be the one taking out the trash (and recycling), accepting deliveries, and shoveling snow, she says.

For repairs, it’s a case-by-case basis depending on how hands-on the owner is, Khemlani says. But you will probably be responsible for taking care of small repairs or at least arranging a repairman and being present for the work. The owner should still pay for all of these repairs and maintenance.

When it comes to that outdoor space, you will also be responsible for the yard work. That means you might also have to mow a lawn, rake leaves. You will also need to keep the gutters and outdoor drains clear of leaves. 

Utilities are another thing to consider, Khemlani says. In most apartments, you are only responsible for paying for electricity, but in a house, you might be asked to pay for water and gas. You should also ask if the owner will pay for extermination services.

How is a lease for a house different from an apartment lease?

When you rent a house, it’s even more important to read the lease thoroughly so you understand what extra responsibilities fall on you. You might even want a lawyer to review the document before you sign. Your lease might state you are only responsible for minor repairs, but it’s best to ask what that entails.

You can also expect an increase in the number of riders compared to an apartment lease, Khemlani says. That’s because your lease will have riders that outline extra responsibilities like maintenance, repairs, sanitation, and utility payments. It will also probably state that you are not allowed to sublet the house, make major improvements, or install things like new appliances, satellite dishes, and solar panels. 

Apartment leases also come with rules for the entire building, whereas a lease for a house is an agreement between just you and the owner, Blacker says. So while you might have different rules and responsibilities, you might not have to deal with building rules like quiet hours like you would in an apartment building.

 

Austin Havens-Bowen

Staff Writer

Staff writer Austin Havens-Bowen covers the rental market and answers renters' questions in a column called Realty Bites. He previously reported on local news for the Queens Ledger and The Hunts Point Express in the Bronx. He graduated from Hunter College with a BA in media studies. 

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