5 Tips for First-Time Renters in NYC

Renting an apartment for the first time is a very exciting milestone. However, for first-time renters, apartment hunting in NYC is its own kind of challenge. Things are notoriously expensive in the Big Apple, and finding a rental can be a truly frustrating experience. Furthermore, you need to be persistent and cautious so you don’t get trapped in a lease you can’t actually afford. There are a lot of common frauds and scams you need to constantly be on the lookout for. That’s why, to help you navigate your apartment search, we created a list of 5 tips for first-time renters in NYC. This list contains all the essentials you need to pay attention to while apartment hunting.

1. Set your budget

The very first thing you need to do before you begin apartment hunting is to settle on a budget. It’s common for first-time renters in NYC to underestimate or overestimate how much they’ll spend on rent. According to a conventional rule of thumb, rent payments should not exceed 30% of your gross income. However, this might be a challenging rule to follow in NYC. Remember to include all monthly expenses while creating your budget to account for any unforeseen fees. Once you set up your budget, avoid wasting time and energy looking at apartments out of your price range. If you can afford it, consider hiring a real estate agent to help you rent an apartment more efficiently and within your price range.

A calculator.
Firstly, set your budget!


2. Make a wish list

If you’re new to the city, it might be difficult for you to know where exactly you want to live. This is where research comes in. Each borough is different and has its own perks and downsides. Make a wish list of the things you want in your neighborhood. It will help you narrow down your search. Then, use Google to learn everything you need to know about a part of the borough that catches your attention the most. It will help you research the schools in Queens and the best things to do in Long Island City. Don’t forget to think about the ideal apartment and the characteristics you want it to have. Write all those things down. They will help you find a suitable apartment.

3. Visit the apartment

Once you’ve narrowed down your search, visit the apartment you’re considering renting. Most first-time renters in NYC tend to want to skip this step, which is a huge mistake. Sometimes things don’t look the same in real life as they do in pictures. Sometimes landlords lie or use outdated photos to convince tenants into renting without getting a good look. That’s why you should make time for a good old-fashioned walk-through of the apartment and the building.

Being there in person can help you decide if you’ve found a suitable apartment. Furthermore, it will also help get a better look into the building and its amenities. During the coronavirus pandemic, most people realized which apartment amenities in NYC are most beneficial. So, if your building has a gym, washer-dryer, private outdoor space, a garage, etc., check if your access will be included in the lease. Access to these amenities can seriously impact your quality of life.

The interior of an apartment perfect for first-time renters in NYC.
Visiting the apartment in person before renting it is a must!

4. Know your rights as a tenant

One of our top tips for first-time renters in NYC is not to forget your rights as a tenant. Tenant protection regulations exist to defend your safety and security. Specifically, your living space must meet specific requirements. At the very least, you are entitled to hot and cold water, heat, proper lighting, and security measures such as a working front door lock and key. On the other hand, landlords are liable for providing window guards on request and repairing peeling paint. They are also obligated to paint inhabited flats in multiple housing units every three years.

Other than the most basic ones, it’s good to know your other rights too. For example, your landlord can’t just show up in your apartment whenever they want. If it’s not an emergency, they have to give you a 24-hour heads-up. Even then, you’re allowed to request to reschedule. Furthermore, know the rules to get your security deposit back. Before moving in, take pictures of the rooms themselves as well as all the itty-bitty details. Take photos of scratches and damages previous tenants made, so you won’t be blamed for them when you move out. It will be far more difficult for them to make you pay if you’ve documented everything.

The interior of an apartment.
Take detailed photos of the apartment before moving in.

5. Act quickly

Once you find the apartment that meets your requirements, don’t spend too much time thinking about it. The NYC rental market is very competitive, and if you don’t act fast, someone will rent your perfect apartment before you. This may vary between boroughs and neighborhoods. However, most apartments in Manhattan and Brooklyn can be rented before you get a chance to blink. So, don’t take too much time, and put in an application as soon as possible.

Once your new place is secured, act quickly by booking a local moving company before peak dates, and the best prices are gone. However, it might be difficult to find movers you know you can trust. On the other hand, by opting for movingrightalong.com, you can relax and know that you have selected the best moving service available in the area.

Final thoughts

If you’re one of many first-time renters in NYC, don’t be afraid. New renters enter the rental market daily, and everybody has to start somewhere. All you can do is put your effort into research and not get overwhelmed as soon as it gets tough. If you follow our tips, you’re guaranteed to find the best apartment that meets your requirements and needs in no time! However, once you’ve finally found an apartment, make sure to read the lease agreement carefully. Understand all the terms and conditions you’ll be agreeing to. Never sign a lease that you won’t be able to afford; you could face costly consequences if you do.

Latest Posts