Why Renting in New York City Isn’t Always Easy

Renting in New York City is not like renting anywhere else.

“Why is that,” you ask?

Well… we’ll get to that in just a second, but first I want you to imagine something

Imagine you’re standing in a cold, wet, dark two-hundred square foot room. The room reeks of mildew and there’s a constant drip coming from an unseen source. You take one step and the damaged, cracked wooden floor creaks loudly under your weight. You’re positive rats have made this place their home, even though you can’t see any… Your entire body is screaming, “GET ME OUTTA HERE!”, and just as you’re ready to b-line for the door, the property broker you came with says, “Don’t you love it? This is just under your budget!”

As crazy as this story sounds, many apartment hunting New Yorkers might relate to this.

Finding apartments in New York City that:

  1. a) Fit your budget
  2. b) Are available
  3. c) Will approve your application
  4. d) You actually want to live in

… Is proving harder, year after year. When you include the fact a broker is going to take around 15%, just for their services, you may be in for a real rollercoaster.

Is there any hope for someone looking to live in NYC?

Luckily, yes!

To find an apartment in New York here’s a list of things you’ll need to do:

First, decide what criteria will be used in your final decision. For example, what noise levels can you handle? Do you have a pet? Who’s going to pay for utilities, you or the landlord? Do you want nice amenities, like a gym or pool? Do you want to be in a doorman building?

All of these factors play a part in how much you’re going to pay for your apartment.

Second, how are you going to go about finding an apartment in NYC? TheGuarantors recommends a tried-and-true method… the INTERNET!

For convenience, we’ve compiled some of the best apartment search sites below:

Finding apartments on these websites can save you time, effort and money. The key to using these sites effectively is utilizing their search tools to filter apartments that match what you’re looking for.

To learn the how to rent the apartment of your dreams, and to find out more about the intricacies of the New York real estate market, subscribe to our blog. We only send you brand new, relevant content!

 

I NEED HELP RENTING

Living Off Campus in New York City

Going to school in New York City is an amazing opportunity to make New York your home, even if only for a few years. Depending on what school you’re attending, living on campus might be a perfect, and affordable option. For many New York students, living in an apartment off campus is part of the New York experience (not to mention nicer digs).

Renting as a student in New York is not always easy, so preparing yourself and researching the market is crucial. Here are a few of our recommendations:

1. Ask you school for help

One thing to know is that your school will probably provide you with some good resources for moving off campus. A lot of schools have deals set up with storage, moving, and brokerage companies to help their students out. I’d contact your student resource center or housing department for information on off campus housing. They might also have recommendations on what rent prices to expect and good buildings for students.

2. Determine how you will qualify

As a student, you might not have any income or very much income. You also might not have developed a strong credit score yet. Both income and credit score will be a major determining factor as to whether an off campus building will accept you. The qualifications for renting in New York are notoriously tough, so prepare yourself in advance. If you have a close relative that live in the Tri-State area and it willing to act as your guarantor, that is always a good option. Be aware that they’ll need to make at least 80 times the monthly rent. If you don’t have anyone to be your guarantor, you’ll probably need to make use of a guarantor service, in which you pay a one time fee and the company, such as TheGuarantors, will act as your guarantor. Figuring this out before you begin your search might be helpful.

3. Consider buildings that house a lot students

Looking at buildings that are used to renting to students will make the process far less painless for you. There isn’t all that much in the way of off campus student housing, but many buildings are great options for students. Most likely, the building will know exactly what to expect from you and will help you understand the application and lease. Another plus to living in buildings with a lot of students is that you’ll meet more people, perhaps from other schools as well. For example, property managers such as Brookhill Properties, Stuyvesant Town, and Silverstein are all very familiar with having student renters.

4. Live with a roommate

Not only is living with a roommate a quintessential college experience, it will also make affording rent in New York City far more manageable. Two or three bedrooms are generally more affordable than one bedroom apartments, and splitting the cost of utilities with a roommate really helps. If you don’t have a roommate, there are tons of online services that will help match you with a roommate,  but we’d recommend asking your school first, as they might be able to connect potential roommates as well.

If you’re looking for student housing off campus, be sure to do your research, talk to your school, and understand your budget. New York has plenty of options for students, as long as you’re patient and willing to be somewhat flexible.

I NEED A GUARANTOR

Rebuilding Your Credit 101

Last week we wrote about landlords checking your credit score when you apply to rent an apartment. We discussed the challenge of getting approved for an apartment if your credit score is considered sub par. Today, we’re going to dive into some options for rebuilding your credit so you don’t run into this issue.

This first thing to know when you start to rebuild your credit is that it takes some time. There is no immediate way to jolt your credit score up, unfortunately. Usually, it will take at least a few months and sometimes years, but it depends on what your credit score currently is and what score you’d like it to be. If your credit history is fairly new, it will take some time to develop credit. For example, younger people usually have slightly lower credit, as they haven’t had enough years to build up a credit history. This is one reason why it’s best to open a credit card and start developing good credit as soon as possible.

Step 1: Pay Your Bills on Time

This first and most important step is to pay your bills on time. Having delinquent payments or collections on your credit report is a the biggest cause for a low credit. It’s crucial to start paying off all of your bills on time. Your payment history is the number one determining factor of your credit score, so even one late payment can negatively impact your credit score.

 Step 2: Lower the Balances on Your Credit Cards

Having high balances on your credit cards or other “revolving” accounts can take a hit on your credit score. Generally speaking, it is safe to have some balance, but it’s crucial to keep the balances as low as possible. High balances mean high outstanding debt, and high outstanding debt means low credit score. You’ll want to aim to keep your credit utilization ration below 25%. You can determine your credit utilization ration by taking your current credit card balance and dividing it by your credit card limit. For example, if you owe $1,000 on a credit card with a limit of $10,000, your utilization ratio would be 10%.

Step 3: Manage Installment Accounts Wisely

Installment accounts are credit accounts such as mortgages, student loans, car payments, etc. Developing a habit and history of keeping those payments up to date and paid in full is a great way to show the credit bureaus that you’re handling your credit wisely and responsibly. If you have a student loan that are paying off on time, that will really help boost your credit score. You don’t need to pay the entire loan off at once, just be sure to pay your installments on time.

Step 4: Dispute Any Issues on Your Credit Report

If there are any issues on your credit report, you’ll need to reach out to the credit reporting agencies directly. These agencies have 30 days to follow up with you, so that can provide some quick relief to your credit score. You should be able to file a dispute with the credit bureau that is reporting the error online, but you might have to send snail mail as well. It’s important to comb through your credit report carefully to make sure everything is accurate, as an error can negatively impact your credit history and score.

Improving your credit score will make it drastically easier to rent an apartment, a car, apply for credit cards, get a mortgage, and more. If you have low credit, it’s best to start rebuilding your credit history and developing good credit habits as soon as possible.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to rent an apartment and your credit score isn’t quite high enough, check out our website for information in your options.

I NEED HELP QUALIFYING TO RENT

Landlords Want Your Credit Score: What To Know

Ah, the dreaded credit check. For hundreds of thousands of people, credit is a major issue. There are many reasons why someone might have a low credit score or not credit at all. For some, student loans have made it tough to keep a high credit score, for others, never opening up a credit card, or only opening a credit card very recently, might cause issues.

Unfortunately, the majority of landlords in New York will run an applicant’s credit score. Not only is the credit run, but it generally needs to be above 700 and it is usually the major determining factor, alongside income, as to whether someone qualifies for an apartment. In some states, such as California, it is actually illegal for a landlord to use an applicant’s credit score as criteria for approving or disqualifying a renter.

Many renters or soon to be renters in New York find themselves searching endlessly for landlords that do not check credit. In reality, there are very few landlords in New York that don’t consider an applicant’s credit, and those landlords frequently don’t have the best reputation.

For applicants with low or no credit, there are very few options for renting. Some ways around the dreaded credit issue include:

  • Subletting an apartment, especially from a friend or family member.
  • Spending some upfront cash to try and rebuild your credit.
  • Using a guarantor to help you qualify for an apartment.
  • Paying several months or even a year of rent upfront.

There many not be many reputable landlords that do not check credit, but there are options depending on your situation. At the end of the day, it is important to try and rebuild your credit score by paying off debts, managing your credit cards, etc. In the meantime, renting an apartment with no credit check is tough, but doable.

I DON’T HAVE A 700 CREDIT SCORE

credit score

NYC Rent Prices: What to Expect

If you’re looking to move to New York City, or you’re just looking for a new apartment in New York City, you’ll need to know what type of costs you can expect. Understanding the rent prices will help you understand what you really should be paying and will help narrow down your search. For example, the average rent in Williamsburg is quite a bit higher than the average rent in Crown Heights. Knowing this will help you determine what neighborhoods your budget will allow for.

For starters, the average (median) rent price for a one bedroom apartment in all of New York City is $3,100 (ouch). If you aren’t familiar with New York real estate, you’ll soon discover how much the average rent varies by neighborhood. Tribeca has a median one bedroom rent price tag of $4,100, where as the bordering neighborhood of the Lower East Side is $2,550. Time Out New York provides a great map of New York City, which breaks down the median rent prices by neighborhood. This should give you a good idea of what to expect in different areas of New York.

Understanding what prices you should expect for a one bedroom, two bedroom, etc., in any given neighborhood will enable you to be much more confident in your apartment selection and will simplify your apartment search. If you’re looking for a two bedroom for under $2,000 and you start showing up to buildings in Chelsea, it probably won’t be a great experience.

A good trick is to try and live in a developing area, such as Long Island City or Hell’s Kitchen, where the rent prices haven’t sky rocketed (yet), but there and tons of beautiful, brand new buildings popping up. You’ll also want to prepare accordingly for what you’ll need financially in order to qualify to rent in certain price brackets. If you don’t make 40 times the monthly rent for the price range you’re looking in or you don’t have a US credit score, you’ll want to use a guarantor.

Before beginning your apartment hunt, educating yourself on the market and what to expect is key to a seamless move. New York City may have staggering rent prices, but knowing the average rent prices in different areas will help you find an amazing new home.

I DON’T MAKE 40 TIMES THE RENT

Speak the Lingo to Navigate the Rental Market Like a Pro

We’ve recently partnered with Quo, an apartment search concierge, to help renters find great homes and learn more about the rental market. We’ll be sharing some of their articles and vice versa, so stay tuned and check out their article below (originally posted here).


 

At Quo, our goal is to ensure every Member is informed and prepared to navigate the commonly confusing rental process. Our expert Concierges are there every step of the way to guide you toward your perfect place, but it always helps to know the ropes yourself in order to feel most confident in your decision making. With so many nuances and technical details, understanding the market and knowing what to expect are paramount to making a daunting process significantly easier and leaving you with peace of mind.

In an effort to be as efficient (lazy) as possible, most real estate listings have abbreviated terms for features in an apartment. Below are helpful definitions of the most frequently used terms.

4B/2B

Four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Bedroom usually means a sleeping area with a window and a closet, but the definition may vary in different places.

FULL BATHROOM

Is a room with a toilet, a sink and a bathtub.

THREE-QUARTER BATHROOM

Has a toilet, a sink and a shower.

HALF-BATHROOM OR POWDER ROOM

Has only a toilet and a sink.

BALC

Balcony

CLASSIC 6

The term ‘classic’ generally refers to a prewar apartment building and the number 6 to the number of rooms. In other words, a classic six is a prewar apartment with six rooms: living room, formal dining room, kitchen, plus two full sized bedrooms, and a smaller third bedroom typically referred to as the maid’s room.

CLASSIC 7

A prewar apartment with seven full rooms (one additional full sized bedroom more than a classic six)

CLASSIC 8

A prewar apartment with eight full rooms (two additional full sized bedrooms more than a classic six)

COOKIE CUTTER

A real estate term for a congenial apartment found in most modern buildings.

DCRFPL

Decorative fireplace (non functional)

DK

Deck

DRMN

Doorman

DUP

Duplex

D/W

Dishwasher

F2C

Floor to ceiling windows.

FDR

Formal dining room

FIXTURE

Anything of value that is permanently attached to or a part of real property. (Real estate legally is called real property, while movables are called personal property). Examples of fixtures include, installed wall-to-wall carpeting, light fixtures, window coverings, landscaping and so on. Fixtures are a frequent subject of buyer and seller disputes. When in doubt, get it in writing.

FRBO

For rent by owner

FRPLC, FPLC, FP

Fireplace

GALLEY KITCHEN

A full kitchen in which there are two sides, and one would walk through the center

GAR

Garage

GARD

Garden

GUAR

Guarantor

GRMET KIT

Gourmet kitchen

HDW, HWF, HDWD

Hard Wood floors

HI CEIL

High ceilings

JR1

A studio apartment with a sleeping alcove

JR4

A one bedroom apartment with a separate dining room or dining alcove

NR BST SCHLS

Near best schools

PASS THRU

Pass through window in kitchen to dining room or living room (typically found in galley kitchens)

P.T. DRMN

Part-time doorman

PULLMAN KITCHEN

A once popular method of space saving, it resembles a closet at first glance. Behind the doors, are two burners, a small sink and usually, a mini refrigerator.

PWDR RM

Powder room or half bath

TERRACE

A private outdoor space, typically larger than your everyday balcony.

TRI

Triplex

UPR

Upper Floor

VW, VU, VWS, VUS

View(s)

WALL OK

Pressurized walls are permissible for conversion

WBRFPLC

Wood burning fireplace

W/D

Washer/Dryer

Janine from Quo

Battle of the Cities: San Francisco vs New York

2,906 miles away lie two of the United States’ most popular cities, San Francisco and New York City. The two cities have some similarities (like dizzying rent prices), and more than a few differences (like population and weather). Check out our breakdown of NYC versus San Francisco.

The Rent

When the news broke in 2014 that San Francisco rent prices had officially become more expensive than New York, most people were in total shock. In reality, the rent prices aren’t actually that different between the two cities. The price per bedroom in New York remains slightly higher, but San Francisco has slightly higher one bedroom and two bedroom prices. It’s also important to note that New York is a much larger city than San Francisco, so there is a broader range of options and rent prices on the east coast city. The qualification criteria in New York can also be a bit trickier, especially because San Francisco does not use credit score as criteria for approving or denying renters. Making 40 times the rent is either city can seem completely impossible, so finding an apartment you can get approved to rent is an issue. You can use services like TheGuarantors to get approved for an apartment in New York.

The Price of Life

Overall, New York City comes in a bit higher in regards to the price of eating out, bars, groceries, and utilities. The biggest differences in price come in the form of monthly transportation costs (Metro Card is $116.50 and a BART pass is $70), restaurants (New York comes in about 10% higher), and activities such as going to the movies or a museum (New York again comes in about 15% higher). Overall, the price of life in San Francisco averages as higher than in New York, due primarily to the continually growing rent prices.

The Transportation

Public transit is a major winning point for New York City. San Francisco is a much smaller city, with a less active and developed public transit system in comparison to New York. New York City’s subways also run 24/7, whereas San Francisco’s MUNI and BART have more limited hours. New York also has one of the oldest public transit systems, so it is further developed, improved, and expanded. Another downside to San Francisco’s public transportation is its geography. The steep hills would make it very difficult to expand the subway lines, although those hills definitely help you stay in shape. Overall, New York City has one of the best public transit systems in the world, and certainly the best in the country.

New York City and San Francisco both certainly have their pros and cons, but between the size of the city, excellent (albeit sometimes frustrating) public transit, and broad range of housing options and prices, New York takes the win for us in the battle of the two cities.

 

I NEED A GUARANTOR

Landlord Asking for a Security Deposit? 6 Things to Know

security-deposit

One of the tricky parts about renting in New York City is the massive upfront costs that renters need to lay down. Between broker fees, moving costs, and security deposits, renters are putting up a huge chunk of chain. Before signing your lease and writing a check for your security deposit, here are a few things you should know:

1. What is a security deposit?

Most residential leases and rental agreements for apartments in New York require a security deposit. This is a dollar amount, usually one month’s rent, that’s intended to cover damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear, and to cushion the financial blow if a tenant skips out early on the lease without paying.

2. My landlord is asking for a 6-month apartment deposit, and I can’t afford it, what should I do?

Your best option might be to find a rent stabilized apartment, as landlords cannot ask for more than one month security in those properties. If a landlord is asking for a massive security deposit, it is most likely because her or she is slightly worried about your rental application for one reason or another. Having a guarantor, either personal or institutional, might help make the landlord more comfortable with you as an applicant.

3. Is there a limit to how much a landlord can charge for a rent/security deposit?

No. In New York, there’s no statutory limit on security deposits for non-regulated units at the state level. Tenants may check city and county laws to see if their municipality has set a cap on security deposits for apartments. Most often, it is one month’s rent. The good news is that the majority of apartments in New York are actually regulated units, which do have a maximum security deposit cap of one month!

4. Where is my money held?

Landlords must hold tenants’ security deposits in trusts. If a landlord owns a property that holds 6 or more tenants, the security deposit must be held in an interest bearing account by a banking organization.  Any commingling of the security deposit with the landlord’s personal funds is prohibited. Simply put, this means your money is safe and sound and the landlord isn’t spending it.

5. How long does a landlord have to return my deposit?

The landlord must return the security deposit, less any lawful deduction, to the tenant at the end of the lease or shortly after the lease ends. A landlord may use the security deposit as reimbursement for the reasonable cost of repairs beyond normal wear and tear, if the tenant damages the apartment; or as reimbursement for any unpaid rent.

Usually, a ‘reasonable’ amount of time to be paid back is in the neighborhood of 30-60 days; however, the definition of ‘reasonable’ is primarily up to the landlord. It’s important to communicate openly with the landlord to determine when you’ll receive your security deposit back.

6. When can my landlord keep my security deposit?

The security deposit must be returned to you with interest. Generally, and depending on your lease agreement, your landlord can use part of your security deposit towards the cost of repairs. For example, if you drilled an excessive amount of holes in the wall, or you really damaged the floors, the landlord might deduct from the security deposit in order to repair those damages.

Understanding all of your rights as a tenant is pretty tricky, but there are tons of resources available for renters to better understand renting in New York. If you have questions about your rights or about security deposits, we hope this post helped, but you’re always welcome to email us at contact@theguarantors.com with any questions.

 

I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS

How to Rent With Bad Credit

WAM

New York is the greatest city in the world, according to many, but unfortunately, it’s also considered one of the hardest cities to live in. If for some reason or another you don’t have a great credit score, or maybe you don’t have credit at all, finding a place to live is going to be a whole lot harder. In other cities, you’ll have a hard time securing a car loan or a mortgage, or maybe opening a bank account, but in New York, the biggest issue will be trying to rent an apartment.

One of the first and most important tools a landlord uses to vet potential renters is a credit check. If your credit score is below 700, a landlord is likely to deem you too high of a financial risk. Low credit frequently means an immediate rejection from the landlord or broker. Here are three ways to rent in New York City with bad or no credit:

  1. Be upfront and honest

Reminding a landlord that you are human can sometimes get you a long way. For example, if your low credit score is due to education loans, or a period of medical issues, a landlord might be much more understanding. Explain your situation in a succinct and honest way (and back it up with proof), and make sure you aren’t hiding anything from the landlord. You want to make sure the landlord trusts you, and honesty is the fastest way to develop that trust.

No matter why you have bad credit, be sure to tell the landlord upfront; before they even run your credit during the rental application process. You don’t want to come off as one person and then shock the landlord with your credit check. There is no point in hiding this information, as it will come to the surface eventually.

  1. Be flexible with cost

If your credit score is low, you might be asked to pay an additional month or even a few months of security to the landlord. In New York City, only landlords that are considered “free market,” rather than “regulated,” can ask for more than a one-month security deposit. Most new buildings are regulated units and most older or smaller buildings are free market units (this is something you should look into when checking out apartments). The landlord also may want to raise the rent price based on your credit score. If you have a weak credit score in New York, you’ll need to be flexible with your budget in order to secure an apartment.

  1. Find a co-signer or guarantor

If the apartment you are applying for is a regulated unit and the landlord cannot ask for any additional security, they’ll want you to find a guarantor or someone to co-sign your lease. You can ask a close family member or even a friend with excellent credit and good income to sign your lease with you. Even though they won’t be living in the unit, the co-signer or guarantor is agreeing to pay the rent in the event that you stop paying it yourself. This is a big burden to put on a friend or family, so chose carefully.

If you don’t have someone in the Tri-State area that can be your guarantor or co-signer, you’ll probably need to turn to a professional guarantor service, like ours (TheGuarantors). With professional guarantor or co-signing services, you’d need to pay an upfront fee and then the company will agree to cover any rent default for the lease term. If you have bad credit but you have some savings, this is probably your best option to qualify for a lease.

I THINK I NEED A GUARANTOR

Guarantors: What You Need to Know

guarantor

When you’re in the midst of your apartment hunt in New York, you hear the term “guarantor” thrown around quite a bit. Even most listing websites, such as StreetEasy, mention if landlords accept guarantors, prefer guarantors, or do not want guarantors. If you’re new to the rental market or maybe just new to New York, you might be wondering/googling a few things.

What is a guarantor?

“Why do I need a guarantor?”

“Who can be my guarantor?”

“Where do I find a guarantor?”

And possibly the most frustrating, “what if I don’t have a guarantor?”

These are all valid questions to investigate. Basically, a guarantor is an individual, usually a family member, that cosigns a lease with a renter. Landlords might require a guarantor if the renter doesn’t make 40 times the rent or has an iffy credit score. The guarantor usually needs to make over 80 times the rent and have excellent credit. They basically act as a safety net for the landlord. If the renter doesn’t pay their rent, the guarantor is legally obligated to pay the rent, so if the landlord is a little worried about a renter, they can ask for a guarantor.

Most NYC landlords require guarantors to be within the state or at least the tri-state area. They usually need to be an immediate family member, but it depends on the landlord. If you don’t have a family member nearby that makes 80 times the annual rent, you could run into a tricky situation.

There are very few solutions for what a renter can do if they don’t have a guarantor and they aren’t quite meeting the strict qualifications of New York City landlords. Some landlords (but only in buildings that aren’t rent stabilized) will ask for huge upfront payments of 6 months rent, which can be nearly impossible for most renters. The issue of guarantors is one of the biggest humps renters might need to get over in order to rent an apartment they want. This problem is why TheGuarantors exist. TheGuarantors replaces the need for a family member to act as a guarantor and allows New Yorkers to rent without a guarantor. You can read more about how TheGuarantors can help you rent in New York here.

We hope that helps you understand guarantors a bit more. If you have questions about guarantors or TheGuarantors, email us at contact@theguarantors.com.

 

I NEED A GUARANTOR