New York City
Whether you are renting your first apartment in New York City or your fifth, the process to obtaining a home to call your own is not easy. This guide has been created to assist you as you search for and secure your new apartment.
Please use this guide to help you in your preparation and search. Remember, the more you know now and the better you are prepared, the greater the advantage you will have later.
If we can be of any assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 212.475.9000.
If you’re new to New York, you’ve undoubtedly already heard horror stories about the stereotypical Manhattan apartment: some roach–infested shoebox with a view of the neighboring building’s brick wall for enough money to feed a small country. We’re not going to lie to you — these kinds of apartments do exist. That doesn’t, however, mean that you have to live in one.
A lot of people want to call Manhattan home, and because demand is so high, landlords can charge a lot of money for an apartment that might cost half as much in a city or town with a more typical real estate market. On the other hand, if you know in advance what to expect and where and how to look, you’re much more likely to find an apartment and location you’re satisfied with. The biggest disappointments of the Manhattan rental process come from clinging to unrealistic expectations of what the market will bear for what you have in mind. By familiarizing yourself with the market ahead of time, you can narrow down your search to only include neighborhoods and apartments that best match the needs of your lifestyle, budget and taste.
As cliché as it may sound, New York City is truly a place of endless possibilities. The urban island of Manhattan teems with renowned restaurants, architectural masterpieces and countless cultural institutions that make it one of the world’s best–loved cities and the country’s commercial, financial and cultural backbone.
Of the five boroughs that make up New York City, Manhattan is actually the smallest, composed of a mere 22.7 square miles of land and only 13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles wide at its fattest point near 14th Street. However, with over one million residents, the island — also known as New York County — proudly packs in the most people of any county in the U.S. Bounded by the Hudson River on the west, the East River to the east, the Harlem River to the north and the New York Harbor to the south, Manhattan was planned as a grid system, making most areas of the city relatively easy to navigate if you know a few basic rules (or if you’ve got a map and a halfway decent sense of direction). The avenues run north to south (First Avenue being the farthest east and Twelfth Avenue being the farthest west), while the streets run east to west across the avenues. As you travel north, the street numbers increase. Fifth Avenue is the center of Manhattan and divides the city into the East and West Sides. Therefore, there is an East 42nd Street and a West 42nd Street. Broadway runs diagonally across the city, from the Lower East Side to the Upper West Side, veering east of Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street, Central Park and Fifth Avenue (south of 59th Street and north of 110th Street). Further downtown and particularly in the West Village, the streets become a bit more confusing as the numbered grid system dissipates, but getting acquainted with (or hopelessly lost in) Lower Manhattan’s layout can result in some great food — and fashion — related finds, at the very least.
Manhattan’s desirability and convenience translate into elevated real estate prices — vacancies account for less than 10 percent of all housing. This imbalance of supply and demand creates a competitive marketplace that requires potential tenants to be knowledgeable about the residential market before attempting to navigate it (which is where we hope this guide comes in).
Under normal economic conditions, the Manhattan rental market follows seasonal patterns, and you can usually save money by moving at a time of year historically more “favorable” to renters.
During the holidays and colder seasons, people often put off their apartment search to hibernate. The warmer months, on the other hand, seem to bring out the nomad in people, and in the summer, zillions of Manhattan university students and recent grads scramble for housing, devouring inventory and causing demand (and prices) to spike. If you’re under no pressure to move immediately, it makes sense to plan your apartment hunt for the late fall and winter months, as you’ll probably find the most space for the least amount of money at these times.
Keep in mind that seasonal fluctuations vary depending on neighborhoods, apartment sizes and service levels, and larger economic forces may influence the market unpredictably from year–to–year or even month–to–month. To find the best deal, don’t just depend on anticipated seasonal patterns — monitor the Manhattan market closely to track where rents stand in different areas of the city. Read real estate, business and finance publications to stay on top of things, and familiarize yourself with the various market reports published by data research and real estate firms in the city (including MNS’s very own Manhattan Rental Market Report). Most importantly, browse apartment listings with religious devotion! Obviously, this is the best way to know how much places are going for at any given time.
Of course, many renters don’t have the luxury of seasonally coordinating their apartment hunt. Most people begin their search one month to 45 days before they need to move. Start looking any earlier and the majority of the apartments you come across will list move–in dates before your desired date of occupation. Landlords commonly designate move–in dates for their vacant units as the 1st or 15th day of the upcoming month, so plan your search accordingly.
1. Determine Your Criteria
2. Research the Market
Insider Tip #1: Add MNS's Apartment Rental Gadget to your iGoogle page to get the latest streeteasy and craigslist listings instantly
3. Broker or No Broker?
4. Set Up Appointments
Insider Tip #2: This is where using a broker can help you the most. Setting up appointments is time-consuming.
5. View Apartments
6. Decide on an Apartment
7. File Your Application
Insider Tip #3: Come prepared to avoid the risk of missing out on your dream apartment!
8. Negotiate and Sign a Lease
9. Get Keys and Move
Space is an expensive commodity in Manhattan real estate, so it’s important to be realistic on your needs. How many people do you plan on living with? Are you willing to share a bathroom or a bedroom? For single renters, more space for the same price can often be obtained by joining up with roommates, but it comes at the sacrifice of privacy. Trade–offs should be considered, but if you don’t have a strong preference, it can be beneficial to start you search with some flexibility or at least an open mind. Appendix A has detailed information on apartment sizes and building types.
New York City rentals offer a bevy of choices when it comes to amenities. From laundry and elevators to on–site fitness centers and doormen, the city offers basic, high–end and everything in between. Renters looking to save money should prepare for basic amenities and consider walk–up properties. While we love little extras as much as the next renter, for cost–conscious renters, amenities should be considered optional in your search. The one exception we make to this rule is regarding security issues — you can’t put a price on safety.
No other city offers more choices when it comes to neighborhoods than New York and they vary greatly. Even within neighborhoods, certain streets and blocks are often more or less desirable based on their proximity to conveniences, transportation, etc. Appendix B gives a detailed description of some of the major Manhattan neighborhoods, but nothing substitutes for walking around the area yourself; so if you can, visit the areas personally.
By far, the most restricting and important part of your criteria is your budget and you need to have a clear bottom–line to start your search. While everyone would love to rent a SoHo pad for $500/month, it’s probably not going to happen. Once you calculate the amount you can afford to spend on housing each month, you can evaluate your options. Don’t get discouraged if your budget is low! Read our Guide to Finding a Cheap Apartment for ideas on how to make it work.
Like nearly everything else in life, shopping for an apartment requires a fair amount of research. You wouldn’t buy a new car without checking prices and viewing the models, so why rent an apartment blind?
The first thing you should do is to check out resources like the Manhattan Rental Market Report to get an idea of what apartments cost in your desired neighborhoods. (Once you have these numbers in mind, you may or may not need to re–evaluate what you are looking for.) These numbers are great for a starting point, but if you’re really serious, it’s time to jump in and see more specifically “what apartments are going for.” This is where technology comes in.
The best way to look for apartments is to look, even when you’re not really looking. Set up your iGoogle page with MNS’s Apartment Rental Gadget and create an account at MNS.com with your search criteria. (Detailed instructions are in Appendix C) Doing this will allow you to easily view the newest properties on streeteasy and craigslist and have new MNS.com properties emailed directly to you.
Also, if you are considering multiple options, renting a studio alone or getting a two–bedroom with a roommate, don’t forget to set up searches for all of these options. You may find that while you can’t afford a studio in your favorite neighborhood, renting with a few friends might be possible.
Once you start looking at specific properties and price points, you will have a better idea of the type of apartment and amenities that will fit in your budget.
Finally, don’t overlook your friends as potential sources of market knowledge — especially if they have been hunting recently. Ask around to figure out what people are paying for their pads to get a realistic gauge of the market or ask them how their search went. Just keep in mind that depending on when they signed their lease, prices may have risen or dropped since then.
The Internet and the information age have taken the real estate market (and every other market, for that matter) by storm. In the past, attempting to navigate the Manhattan rental market without a broker or some sort of professional assistance was often an exercise in confusion and frustration, to say the least. Fewer people possessed the knowledge or resources to successfully brave the Manhattan market alone, and even fewer still had the patience. Now, with more free online classifieds, no–fee rental sites, public real estate databases and forums hitting the Web every day, renters are becoming incredibly savvy about the world of Manhattan real estate. Using available free (or cheap) tools designed to provide transparency and open access to the real estate market, you, too, have the ability to find a great apartment without enlisting the services of a broker. All you need is plenty of time.
Today, most Americans lead extremely hectic lives. How much time you have left in your day after accomplishing your daily duties at work and home will of course vary greatly depending on your present situation, but the more time you can devote to your self–propelled apartment search, the more likely you are to wind up with an apartment you’re happy with. You should look at your apartment search like it’s another “job” — one that you need to donate copious amounts of hours and energy to in order to get done properly. If you choose to search on your own, understand that much of your free time will be spent poring over apartment listings and coordinating viewings. If you work full time, you’ll probably need to take time off or use your weekends to view apartments, as you must work around the schedules of the owners or supers showing the properties (and many prefer showing apartments weekdays during normal work hours). You may take the time to check out 20 apartments only to find you hate everything, and become exasperated and bitter as a result. Apartment searching may even become somewhat of an obsession — you may find yourself itching to browse listings and frantically making phone calls on your lunch break to set up appointments, all in hopes of not missing out on that elusive apartment that’s “the one” (not that we know from experience, of course).
Keep in mind that if successful, you’ll be handsomely rewarded with a happy home you found on your own, and you’ll also be 15 percent of your annual rent richer (since you avoided a broker fee). On the other hand, apartment hunting in Manhattan without a broker is far from easy, and can, in short, make you feel like ripping your hair out. Particularly if you’re using a free online classifieds service to search, you’re bound to at some point run into con artists and scams; flaky, unprofessional owners who miss appointments and never return your calls; and apartments that look like fantastic in photos, but in reality more closely resemble accommodations at Riker’s. These things happen.
So what will you get if you decide to use a broker? Mostly, the gift of time. Brokers know what is available, going to be available and what apartments aren’t worth the time to look at. They will use this information to eliminate many units that won’t meet your criteria and make sure that you are only seeing the best properties on the market. This market knowledge is invaluable to renters who are picky, time–strapped or not familiar enough with Manhattan to successfully search for themselves. Once you find an apartment you like, the broker will also help you prepare your application package and, if necessary, negotiate with the landlord.
You may be surprised to know that with the exception of exclusives, Manhattan brokers generally do not possess any special inventory of apartments that the layman can’t access. So, your broker’s personality and working style is really what you need to evaluate when deciding who to work with. Whether they are with the largest or smallest company, you’ll still have access to the same great apartments. The bottom line is, if you feel your broker doesn’t have your best interests at heart, find someone who does.
If you’ve decided to use a broker, you won’t spend any time at all scheduling viewings. You will simply give your broker your available times and dates and they will take care of the rest. But if you’re going it alone, you’ll need to be diligent and organized in seeing multiple units. Remember, units can disappear quickly, so the sooner you see the unit, the better.
In all likelihood, as a renter in Manhattan, you probably have a full–time job, which eliminates the luxury of seeing apartments mid–week. If you can take a day off of work, however, you will find that setting up appointments during normal business hours is much easier than trying to get into them on the weekends.
Visiting apartments in bulk is also a great time saving technique. If you are looking at apartments that are nearby, try to schedule the viewings back–to–back, giving yourself between 30 minutes and an hour to see each property. The faster you can move onto the next unit, the better. Just make sure to be thorough in your initial viewing as your first visit may be your only visit to the unit prior to signing a lease.
Keeping track of all of your appointments is crucial. One way to track them all is to set up a spreadsheet with the date, time, location and contact information for each showing. If you are not familiar with the area, you can use Google maps to set up ‘walking directions’ to and from each unit. Being on time and prepared shows landlords and agents that you are a responsible and serious renter.
Finally, advertising can be deceiving. No matter what the ad says, or how nice the apartment seems in pictures, nothing substitutes for actually visiting the unit. The unit can be great, but it might be on the third floor of a walk–up with a Chinese restaurant downstairs. While you may love General Tso’s chicken, you may not want to smell it 24/7. So, if you are considering an apartment, make sure to set up an appointment to see it. Don’t blindly sign a lease because the pictures on the website looked good.
“Come prepared and leave happy” sums up the Manhattan apartment hunting process relatively well. As we’ve said, if you find an apartment you like, you need to jump on it immediately, and the only way to set the wheels in motion is to have all the documents you’ll need to secure the lease on your person when you go apartment hunting. That way, you can immediately apply and don’t have to worry about someone getting their paperwork in before you and “stealing” your precious, hard–earned apartment. Plus, being prepared makes you look good — the landlord will perceive you as someone who is responsible, serious and savvy. It is a good idea to bring the following items with you when you go on your apartment search:
Essential Application Information — This includes your employer’s contact information, the name and contact information of your bank, and the names and contact information of previous landlords. (If you plan on using a guarantor, be sure to have their essential information as well).
Employer Verification Letter — This letter must be prepared on company letterhead and signed by your supervisor. It should state your position, start date, salary and, if applicable, guaranteed bonus. It should also indicate whether or not you are entitled to a housing allowance and if so, how much.
Bank Statements — You should be prepared with at least the last two months’ statements.
Tax Returns — In some instances you may be asked to show tax returns, so it is a good idea to bring the last two years returns with you.
Photo Identification — A driver’s license, passport, or other form of government issued photo ID will be required.
Monies — It is important to at least bring along monies to cover the application fee(s), and, if necessary, the deposit (one month’s rent) in order to secure the property.
Camera — A camera can come in handy to keep track of apartments. Snapping a few shots of the interior and exterior can help you jog your memory, especially when seeing a number of units in rapid succession.
Tape Measure — This is important if you have specific pieces of furniture that need to fit into your new home. Be sure to come with all measurments written down as well.
Now that you’ve seen the units available, you need to decide on an apartment. While many renters will immediately walk into a unit and know it’s for them, others may have to weigh the pros and cons of multiple units. Here are some things to consider:
1. What is the best location?
2. Will you be comfortable commuting from there?
3. Will there be enough to entertain you on the weekends?
4. Is travel outside of the area convenient?
5. Is the layout of the unit functional?
6. Are there any major repairs necessary? Remember, dirt can be cleaned, but repairs are more difficult to fix.
7. Is there enough space for all your stuff?
8. Is there ample natural light?
9. Can you comfortably afford the unit and all utilities?
Once you have considered the various types of apartments and buildings you are interested in viewing, you need to prepare the necessary documentation and fees needed to apply for them. Getting an apartment in Manhattan does not just mean giving basic information and writing a check, so it’s important to understand what makes you qualified to rent in the city.
Income Requirements — Most landlords require tenants to make 40 to 50 times the monthly rent of the apartment as their annual salary. In most cases this must be guaranteed income and does not include bonuses. (ex: If the property is $2000.00 a month, you must earn $80,000.00 to $100,000.00 a year in order to qualify to rent the property.)
Lease Guarantor — If an applicant does not meet the financial requirements the landlord may require a Lease Guarantor. This person is responsible for the rent if the tenant fails to pay it. They are generally required to go through the same application process as the tenant and earn 80 to 100 times the monthly rent. Most landlords prefer a tri–state guarantor (someone who lives in New Jersey, New York or Connecticut) however this will vary from landlord to landlord.
Application / Credit Check — This is typically a single document that will provide a landlord with an applicant’s professional, financial and personal background information required when applying to live in a property. (Credit check is only applicable for US residents).
Application Fees — Application fees are generally due at the time of application submission and range in price from $50–$100 (per application) for a rental building and anywhere from $250–$1,000 for a co–op or condo building.
Required Certified Monies — One month’s rent and one month’s security is generally required at time of lease signing. Landlords generally require these monies in the form of two separate certified checks or money orders and do not accept personal checks, or cash. These can be obtained at a Manhattan bank for $10–$15. If you do not have a US credit history or have bad credit, landlords will often request additional security. Some landlords will allow the tenant to pay via credit card, but they may require additional surcharges (2–3% will be added to the rent and security payments).
Brokerage Agreements — Because tenants pay the brokerage fees in Manhattan, it is customary to be asked to sign a fee agreement when first visiting with a broker. This agreement simply states that you agree to pay a fee to the broker if they help you to secure a lease on a particular property. You are not required to pay a brokerage fee if you are unable to secure a lease with them.
Brokerage Fees — The standard brokerage fee in Manhattan is 15 percent of the annual rent and is generally due at the time of lease signing. You are only responsible for this fee if you secure an apartment through that broker. Fees should always be made payable to the brokerage firm and not an individual agent. MNS’s Rental Division accepts major credit cards for payment of fees; additional surcharges (2–3 percent) will be added to the brokerage fee.
Owner Paid Fees — There are certain circumstances where a landlord may pay a portion of a fee to a broker. According to New York State law, the broker must notify the person responsible for paying the fee (tenant, sponsoring corporation, etc.). In this case, MNS’s Rental Division will discount your fee by the amount of monies received by the owner.
A broker will help you prepare your application or, if you are working alone, you will be responsible for turning in a complete application package. We recommend double–checking all requirements and following up with the leasing organization promptly to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Appendix D has a list of special circumstances to be aware of.
Until recently, negotiations were unheard of in the Manhattan rental market. Apartments were take–em–or–leave–em and incentives were the stuff renters’ dreams were made of.
However, now that the market has softened, sometimes there is a bit of wiggle room in rental deals. Your broker will be the best resource in offering you advice on if negotiating will be possible and how much you might be able to gain. Just remember, even in a soft market, you can still lose an apartment. If the dollars and cents don’t add up for the landlord, they will still walk away from a deal.
Once you agree to terms, the lease will need to be signed by all parties — this includes the landlord, renter and, if applicable, guarantors. All paperwork will need to be signed before you move in, so if you are using a guarantor that is not in the area, be prepared to quickly ship documents.
Once the lease is signed, the apartment is officially yours!
If you have a broker...
Another benefit to having a broker is their connections with other local professionals. Many brokers will be able to provide you with recommendations for services like movers and decorators — which can be especially helpful if you are new to the area.
In addition to the standard apartments available in Manhattan, there are several unique shapes and sizes that may be unfamiliar to you.
Studio — A one room apartment where the bedroom and living room are in the same space. Depending on the room size, the kitchen may either be a separate room or simply found along a wall in the same room. Studios are sometimes known as efficiencies.
Alcove Studio — Similar to a studio in that it is composed of only one room, but it also offers an open area adjoined to the living room space which is typically used for sleeping. An alcove studio is sometimes known as a junior one–bedroom or an L–shaped studio because the layout may resemble the shape of the letter.
Flex (convertible) Two — A one bedroom apartment that has enough space, usually in the living room, to put a temporary, also know as pressurized, wall in order to convert the larger room into a second bedroom and smaller living room. (Converted Apartments contain a large open space, generally the living room, that can be converted to create an additional bedroom or dining room)
Junior 4 — A one bedroom apartment with an additional alcove space in the living room, generally used as a dining room, or converted into a second bedroom.
Classic 6 — Specific to a prewar building, this is an apartment with six rooms: a living room, a formal dining room, a kitchen, plus two full sized bedrooms, and a small third bedroom, typically referred to as the maid’s room. (Classic 7s and 8s are also available, and provide one or two additional full sized bedrooms).
Furnished Apartment — Generally rented as a short–term rental, (less than one year, can be as little as one week) these apartments contain all the furniture, kitchenware, and bathroom accoutrements one would need to live.
There are three basic types of buildings in Manhattan: 24 Hour Doorman / Elevator Attended, Elevator / Lift (unattended), and Walk–Up (unattended):
Doorman Building — These buildings tend to be larger buildings, such as high–rises, with the highest level of security. They also offer the highest level of convenience and comfort because someone is there to take/hold your packages, dry cleaning, scheduled drop–offs, or anything else you might need while you are out. (If you are new to Manhattan, delivery is a way of life on the island. Also, you should consider that mail and packages will not be left without a signature – another benefit of the dooman building.) There are three types of Doorman Buildings: luxury high–rise, standard, and part–time doorman.
Luxury High–Rise — These buildings have more than one doorman, usually a full staff of attendants, and offer concierge–like (hotel) services. Top amenities, such as a private health club, pool, sun deck, children’s playroom, laundry facilities, etc, are generally available, but will vary with each building.
Standard Doorman — These buildings have someone on duty 24 hours a day and will provide the security, and convenience of a doorman, but they do not offer added amenity services.
Part–Time Doorman — These buildings typically have a doorman for the day shift but rely on security cameras or some form of high–tech security system at night.
Elevator Building — These buildings do not have a doorman on duty, although some may have an elevator attendant. These buildings are considered somewhere in between a doorman building and a walk–up with respect to quality, comfort and security. They often have laundry in the building and a security system such as an intercom. These buildings are typically more moderately priced and are not as expensive as a doorman building, but not as inexpensive as a typical walk–up.
Walk–Up Building — These buildings do not have a doorman or elevator. They can be brownstones or townhouses (4–5 stories), above storefronts (generally one or two stories), or low–rise buildings (free standing 4–5 stories). They are the most affordable living accommodation in the city; however, as a result they have minimal amenities. Most walk–up buildings have double door security and some have more elaborate systems, such as intercoms and cameras.
Note: The quality of the building with respect to Elevator and Walk–Ups can vary drastically depending on how well the property is maintained by the owner, and each situation should be judged on its own merits.
The physical architecture of the buildings types described above can vary and knowing what to expect of these properties will help you narrow your search. They can generally be categorized as one of the following:
Brownstone, Townhouse, or Mansion — Most date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s and were originally built as single family homes. While the single family home still exists (ranging from three to five stories), many have since been converted into several apartments per building. Largely considered the historic gems of Manhattan, these apartments are known for their architectural character and offer an alternative to a standard high–rise or modern apartment. They typically have plank hardwood floors, high ceilings with exposed beams, crown moldings, and working or decorative fireplaces.
Loft Building — Except for new construction, these properties were at one time commercial spaces that have been converted for residential living and can range from 5 to 20 stories tall. The homes inside are typically large, open spaces and can vary in their degree of architectural character. Many lofts are intentionally left raw with their freight elevators in tact, and original columns left in place, allowing the renter to convert the empty space into open living areas. Increasingly, renovated or newly constructed lofts are available that offer the same high–end amenities (gym, concierge, laundry, etc.) found in a luxury high–rise.
Prewar Building — These are representative of any building built prior to World War II. These buildings are often characterized by their elaborate architecture and extensive detail. They typically feature high ceilings, hardwood floors, and decorative elements such as fireplaces, and original details. It is quite common to find these properties to have a 24 hour doorman or elevator operator service.
Postwar Building — These are representative of any building built post World War II. Known for their simple design and well divided units, they offer a more modern living space than the typical prewar building. These buildings usually have laundry facilities in the basement of the older buildings, or on each floor in newer buildings. Doorman services vary from building to building.
High–Rise — Refers to any building that stands 20 stories or more and was typically built in the latter part of the 20th century. These buildings tend to offer standard shaped apartments, known as cookie cutters, and vary in the level of services and luxury.
Low–Rise — Refers to any building that is less than 20 stories high but they are typically 4 – 12. These buildings may also have standard shaped apartments, and are usually walk–up or elevator buildings. Most have laundry in the building and feature video intercom systems.
There are three types of building ownership in Manhattan and they each vary with respect to the requirements and approval process one would need to go through in order to live in that property. They range in difficulty from rentals, being the easiest, to co–ops, which are notoriously the most difficult.
Rental Buildings — A single landlord owns the entire building and the real estate laws determine whether the specific unit is rent stabilized or non–rent stabilized. Landlords generally require the standard paperwork (discussed later), a credit check and request one month’s rent and one month’s security deposit upon lease approval. The approval process can take anywhere from one day to one week but is usually no more than that.
Condominiums (Condo) — Each unit is individually owned and is used as a personal residence or can be rented out as an investment property. Subject to the regulations of the condo board (governing body for the building made up of individual owners), owners are able to determine their own rental price and lease length. Owners will generally require from an applicant the standard paperwork plus whatever additional information they feel necessary for approval. In addition, applicants must also submit whatever necessary paperwork the board may ask for as the owner of the property is required to disclose any potential renters. However, unlike a co–op, the board does not have the right to turn down an applicant that an owner is willing to rent to. Tenants are generally required to pay application and / or board and move–in fees (as well as additional Security if required) and the approval process could take anywhere from one week to one month.
Co–operatives (Co–op) — As in a condo, each unit is individually owned; however, individuals actually own shares in the building based on their apartment’s size and value, and not the deed to the property as one would in a condo. They tend to have the most stringent rules and regulations with respect to rentals. The co–op board generally requires extensive financial and personal information in addition to the standard paperwork. Prospective tenants must also undergo an extensive interview with the building’s co–op board. Tenants are generally required to pay large application, board, and move–in fees as well as extra security. Co–ops can often be problematic for international clients or new hires without an established credit history. The approval process generally takes around one month or more.
Manhattan’s streets are based on a grid system. The avenues run north to south (First Avenue being the farthest east and Twelfth Avenue being the farthest west), while the streets run east to west across the avenues. As you travel north, the street numbers increase. Fifth Avenue is the center of Manhattan and divides the city into the East and West Sides; therefore, there is an East 42nd Street and a West 42nd Street. Broadway runs diagonally across the city from the Lower East Side to the Upper West Side, veering east of Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street, Central Park and Fifth Avenue (south of 59th Street and north of 110th Street).
Visit our Manhattan Neighborhood Guide to learn more about each of the neighborhoods that make up this diverse borough.
We can tell you about Manhattan’s neighborhoods ‘til we’re blue in the face, but you won’t really figure out which one you want to live in until you go visit them in person. After researching the city’s neighborhoods and narrowing down a few possibilities based on price, location and vibe, set aside time (assuming you have some) to walk around the different areas to get a real feel for what they’re about. Take in the scene, both during the day and maybe more importantly, at night, to make sure you can picture comfortably immersing yourself in the community.
Talking to people who live in the area is another great way to learn about your surroundings and possible future home. Despite their reputation for notoriously surly and anti–social behavior with strangers, New Yorkers are in fact human, which means they, too, like to talk about themselves and their lives when given the opportunity. When you find an apartment you like, before you make a decision, chat it up with some would–be neighbors who live in the building. It’s usually pretty easy to tell when people are happy with their accommodations, and if you ask them “Do you like living here?” you’ll find that most apartment dwellers will be frank.
Want your very own iGoogle Apartment Rental Gadget? It’s easy to install and get you instant access to all streeteasy and craigslist inventory. Head over to our Manhattan Apartment Rental Gadget page and you’ll be up and running in no time.
One of the best ways to track apartments you’ve viewed, find new listings (even ‘no fee’ listings) and get access to the best resources is to create a MNS.com user account. Best of all, it’s free and easy. Just click on the Login/Sign Up Button at the top right corner, enter your information and click “Sign Me Up”
There are some circumstances that may require additional preparation when renting an apartment in New York City that you should be aware of.
Roommates - Landlords often will not take any more than two names on a lease. Roommates are held jointly responsible for rent and brokerage fees. Additionally, roommates are held responsible for any other roommate's unpaid rent. We encourage you to create a written agreement amongst all parties involved, binding each individual to the terms of the lease and to the fee. The combined income of the roommates will often be considered with respect to financial requirements; however, this is landlord specific and you should advise your agent ahead of time if this is how you plan to qualify for an apartment. In addition, landlords may require a guarantor regardless of whether or not the combined income meets the financial requirements and you should discuss this in advance.
Walls — Often, finding a true two–bedroom on a limited budget can be difficult. Another alternative is to find a one–bedroom that can be converted into two by installing a temporary wall. There are several reputable vendors in Manhattan that will deliver and install a wall for a fee. However, not all landlords will allow these shares and you should notify your agent if you are interested in doing so. You are often responsible for aking down the wall at the end of your lease.
International Tenant — If you pay taxes outside of the United States, or if you have a housing allowance from your employer, your eligibility is evaluated differently. You should consult your relocation supervisor or broker to determine a budget. Without a US rental history, many international transferees are required to pay additional security. In addition, some landlords may require as much as 6 months to one year of rent to be paid in advance depending on the circumstances.
Pets — Man’s best friend can unfortunately prove to be his worst enemy when it comes to finding an apartment in Manhattan, particularly those pets that are over 20 lbs. Most landlords in New York City do not accept dogs and if they do, they generally prefer them to resemble cats in size. Cats and other domestic pets can also limit your inventory and you should advise your agent of any pets you may have or plan on getting in the future.
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Check out samples of leases and riders you will find throughout the Manhattan rental market.
A list of maps and transit options available in New York City and beyond.
Print out our moving checklist so you can be sure to have all your ducks in a row before you move.
Know the pertinent steps to buying an apartment in Manhattan. The guidance you receive can make or break your deal. Know before you go.
We know real estate terms and abbreviations can get confusing, so we’ve put together a list of terms and definitions for you.