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  • Dillon Ross

The Complete Guide to Renting an Apartment in NYC

Renting an apartment in NYC is by no means an easy process. However, it doesn't mean you can't be prepared so that you can provide the NYC real estate agent or landlord with everything they need to approve your application.

renting an apartment in NYC

When thinking about renting an apartment in NYC, it's important to understand that you'll need to be able to show that you earn 40x the monthly rent as a sole applicant.

So, for example, if the monthly rent is $2,000, you need to show that you make $80,000 per year.

Many people renting apartments in NYC cannot prove this on their own, so don't panic. There is a solution.

If you don't have enough income to qualify on your own, you can use a guarantor (if the building permits it) to help you get approved. However, you need to show that the guarantor makes 80x the monthly rent.

So, for example, if the rent is $2,000 per month, your guarantor needs to show that they make $160,000 per year.

I know it seems like a lot, but landlords in NYC use this number for qualifying and disqualifying potential tenants because they need to ensure that you'll be able to make your rent payments, no matter what.

Continue reading this guide to learn everything about renting an apartment in NYC.

Applying for an Apartment in NYC

To apply for an apartment in NYC, you'll need to provide many documents. Whether you're a business owner, 1099 contractor, or regular W2 employee, you'll still need to provide documents to prove your income.

When you find the perfect NYC apartment, you'll have to be ready to immediately submit an application, especially when it's a competitive market and you can't afford to wait around.

Every landlord or NYC real estate agent may require different types of documents, but it'll be the same for the most part. Here's a good place to start when applying for an apartment in NYC:

  • Employment verification letter (if you're self-employed or 1099, a letter from your accountant)

  • Paystubs

  • Bank statements

  • Federal tax return including your W2 or 1099 form

  • Photo ID

  • Application fee (usually around $20-$50)

And sometimes, you'll get landlords that also ask for the following.

  • Recommendation letter from a previous landlord

  • Summaries of savings accounts and liquid assets

  • Copy of your social security card

  • Proof of past rent payments

Why Do Landlords Ask For so Much Information?

I get it, and I've been there. It can feel invasive, be stressful and leave you feeling anxiety-ridden. But, you'll feel better by understanding the real reason why landlords want to see these documents and get to know your financial situation.

Just because a landlord owns a building doesn't mean they own it outright. More often than not, a landlord has a mortgage on the real estate and rents units out to tenants to pay back the loan. It's a business. So, they need to ensure with 100% certainty that the tenant they place in a unit will be able to make the rent payments. And by you providing them with all of these documents is the best way for them to get an overview of your financial situation.

And don't lose sleep if you can't provide every single document to the landlord. As long as you've supplied the majority of what they've requested, you'll be fine. However, the more documents you can provide will ultimately give you the best chance at getting your application approved.

What Is a Broker Fee?

A broker's fee is a fee that a NYC real estate agent or broker will collect from a renter when finding an apartment for them. Often, there are listings a real estate agent can see that you can't, and having help throughout the process from an agent can be super helpful. Typically, the broker fee is 15% of the annual rent, but it's always negotiable.

Don't worry, though; if you do not want to pay a broker fee, there's such thing as no-fee buildings. Either you can deal directly with the leasing manager, or the building will pay the broker fee to the real estate agent.

If you're moving from another state to NYC and have no choice but to find an apartment in a specific timeframe, it's worth paying a broker fee for the help an agent can provide you.

Application Fee

It seems like everything we've talked about has been fees, but don't worry, you're almost at the finish line.

When applying for a NYC apartment, the landlord will run your credit. So, to cover any fees incurred when doing this, the landlord will charge you an application fee.

Per the Statewide Housing Security and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, apartment application fees cannot exceed $20.

Something also to note is that when you're applying and you feel good about your case, make sure you have your one-month rent and one-month security deposit ready to go.

If you make the landlord wait around and give them any reason to believe you'll bag on them, they will move on to the next applicant.

Trust me - it can happen!

Remember to Be Prepared

When you see an apartment you like, the chances are that many others like it as well. So, when you begin searching for your NYC apartment, you need to make sure that (and your roommate if you have one) are prepared to apply right away.

Imagine falling in love with a place but not getting it because you needed to wait on an employment verification letter.


So make sure you have everything in hand before seeing places, so you're able to apply right away.


As you can see, the process of getting an apartment in NYC can be stressful, but if you prepare yourself, it doesn't have to be! Working with a real estate agent can help a lot when going through this process.

In short, make sure you have all of your documents in hand so that once you find the place you love, you're ready to go! The more prepared you are upfront, the easier the process will be.

Whether you're looking to rent, buy, or sell in NYC, Dillon Ross can help.

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