Sotheby's International Realty Donna Stockman

Renting in NYC

In New York City you can rent an apartment in a rental building, or you can sublet in a cooperative (co-op) or a condominium (condo). In each of these cases, you can find rentals in high rise, midrise or lowrise buildings, in brownstones, in pre-war, postwar or contemporary buildings, and in buildings that have amenities such as fitness centers, roof decks, playrooms and lounges.

To rent, you must financially qualify.  Most landlords require that you annually earn 40 to 50 times the amount of the monthly rent, sometimes even more, and they take into consideration other outstanding debt, including bank loans, mortgage loans, student loans and credit card debt. New York City landlords are rigid and boards of coop buildings are generally even more demanding. If you do not meet the landlord’s or coop board’s requirements, you may need a lease guarantor.

If you need a guarantor, it should be a family member of close friend who lives and owns property in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut. In order to qualify, a guarantor must earn 80 to 100 times the monthly rent. Extensive financial documentation will be required, so educate your guarantor in advance so that they may gather the documentation.

Before you begin your search, determine what you can afford to pay each month (typically 25% of your monthly income). Take into account what you will need to pay in utilities. While most apartments in New York City include heat and hot water, it is important to ask. Expect that you will need to pay an application processing fee and credit check fee, first month’s rent and one month’s security upfront. If you rent in a coop or condo you will also have to pay other fees including a move in and move out fee. If a broker was used, the brokerage fee is due upon lease signing.  This is typically 15% of the annual rent. Please note that most of these funds will need to be paid by certified or bank check. Landlords will not accept personal checks or out of state checks.

Before you begin your search, you should gather the following materials which you will need to submit with your rental application (or with the board package if you sublet in a coop or condo):

  • Letter of employment which details your current salary, 3 years of bonus history (if applicable) and length of employment
  • Bank account numbers (checking and savings) and credit card numbers
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of previous landlord and a landlord reference letter
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of accountant and attorney, if applicable
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of personal and business references (coop board will require actual letters of reference)
  • Tax returns (1-2 years)
  • Pay stubs (typically last 2)
  • Expected bonus
  • Additional sources of income with verification
  • Personal identification with photograph (driver’s license or passport)

If you have a pet, please take into consideration that not all buildings allow pets. In particular, it is becoming more difficult to find buildings which allow dogs. Some buildings will allow dogs, while some have weight restrictions (typically 25 pounds and under). Many buildings simply say “no” to all pets – even fish! If you have more than one dog, or multiple pets, finding a home for you and your pets will be difficult.