How To Rent in New York City

Renting in New York City can be overwhelming and time consuming. After helping hundreds of busy people find apartments, we've learned how to make the process as fast and painless as possible.


Most people spend 25% to 35% of their monthly gross (before tax) paycheck on rent. Most landlords prefer tenants who earn 40-50 times the amount of their monthly rent to meet their strict financial eligibility requirements, with the annual salary of a guarantor equal at least 80-100 times the monthly rent.

For example: 50 x $2,000.00 (monthly rent) = $100,000.00 (annual salary)


In most cases, 30-45 days before you plan on moving in is enough time to find a rental property and sign your lease. The New York market moves fast, you don’t want to find the perfect rental and realize you are not ready to sign your lease.


New York has an especially complex real estate market. When finding an agent or broker, do your research. Asking for recommendations from friends or colleagues can help point you in the right direction. Researching REBNY (Real Estate Board of New York) Members is also a great way to find a broker or agent.

An experienced agent will help you narrow down your favorite neighborhoods and clarify the amenities you seek in a rental. You will likely view rental buildings, condominiums, or cooperatives.


Most landlords require an application to be submitted so credit checks can be made. (Cooperative buildings can be particularly demanding-potential coop renters follow the same steps as a purchaser.) Your agent or broker can help you with this application. Usual application fees for Rental Buildings are $50 and up, for Condos or Co-ops, $150 and up.


Most rentals will require a security deposit, which is refundable if you don’t get approved for the rental.

You must also provide the following:
Original letter of employment and salary verification on company letterhead (a signed offer and acceptance letter is not sufficient). The letter must state:

  • Position
  • Salary
  • Length of employment
  • Expected bonuses
  • Relocation bonuses
  • Bank account numbers (checking and savings)
  • Credit card numbers
  • Additional sources of income (with verification)
  • Personal identification (with photograph)
  • Tax returns (most recent 1st page & signature page)
  • Bank statements (2 most recent)
  • Pay stubs (2 most recent)
  • Credit report (Credit reports should be clean with prompt payment history. If
    applicant/Guarantor has any collection accounts, liens, or judgments against them, some landlords will require an official letter of satisfaction. If unsatisfied, the landlord may at his or her discretion require extra security deposit, a guarantor, or reject the application.)
  • Self employed? You will also need: Original copy of letter from Certified Public Accountant or Lawyer on company letterhead verifying nature of business and income amount for the last two years.

It's also helpful to include names, addresses and phone numbers of previous landlords. (Certain landlords are more demanding than others in terms of information needed to secure an apartment.)

If financial conditions are not met, a landlord may require a lease cosigner, or guarantor. Landlords prefer guarantors to be family members who live and own property in the Tri-State area.


Once you approved, you will be asked to sign the apartment lease. To sign the lease, you will need some form of personal identification, preferably a driver's license or a passport.

Be prepared to write out certified checks, money orders, or set-up a wire transfer from a New York area bank. When the lessee signs the lease, the following fees are paid on separate checks:

  • First month's rent
  • Security deposit (usually 1 or 2 month’s rent)
  • Real estate fee/commission: 15% of the first annual rent for a lease of one year or more, or, one month rent for a short term lease of 3-6 months


The landlord may require advanced notice to schedule the move in or out of your personal belongings. Check with the managing agent or the superintendent for details.

Companies like Manhattan Mini Storage can arrange movers. If you are storing items,, they might off-set your moving charges if you book a storage unit. Your new building might also have approved movers.

Make sure the movers sign/fax the certificates the landlords need. Some building superintendents will make the movers wait at the door until the paperwork is approved.


Questions on this process or listings available? Call or email us today.