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When should I start looking for a rental?

By Alanna Schubach  | August 9, 2021 - 12:30PM

There's a lot of competition now, so you may want to start your search earlier.


How far in advance should I start my search for a rental? I've heard the timeline has changed and renters are looking earlier than usual.

Traditionally, most people look for a new rental in New York City about a month in advance, but with so much competition for apartments, you may want to start your hunt earlier, our experts say. 

There's a lot of demand for rentals right now because New Yorkers who left during the pandemic are returning en masse for in-person work and for school in the fall. That demand means landlords have more power to raise rents and pull back on concessions, Adrian Savino, director of leasing and business development at Living New York, says on the latest episode of the Brick Undergrond podcast. And in some particularly in-demand neighborhoods, there are even bidding wars for rental units. 

"The ideal time to begin your search for a rental is 45 days prior to the time you wish to take possession of an apartment," says Dennis R. Hughes, a broker with Corcoran. "This timeframe allows you to select from a broader group of options, but it may also require you to select an apartment sooner then you anticipated. Always better to get a jump on it."

On the bright side, there are still some parts of the city where landlords have empty apartments to fill. Some large buildings are even offering tenants the ability to "pre-lease" apartments—that is, sign a lease and lock in an apartment 50 to 90 days before move in. 

But in most properties, a 60-day lead is the maximum amount of time landlords will give tenants to commit to moving in.  

"Landlords don’t typically ask if a tenant is renewing [their lease] more than 60 to 90 days in advance, and most tenants don’t give notice more than that," says Bill Kowalczuk, a broker with Warburg Realty. "You can’t find many apartments on the market that would be ready for move-in more than 60 to 75 days in advance. It is rare to find something listed so far in advance, given how the rental market can change very quickly." 

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Alanna Schubach

Contributing writer

Contributing editor Alanna Schubach has over a decade of experience as a New York City-based freelance journalist.

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