Accommodation in New York City

Rent house or flat in New York City

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Renting in NYC is very common. About 68% of the city's population are renters. However, the city is also unbelievably expensive. Year after year, rents in New York City are climbing to historic rates. According to a StreetEasy Manhattan Rent Index report, the average cost of an apartment in Manhattan has reached an all-time high of $3,217 a month.

Rent is paid one calendar month in advance and a deposit (often equal to first and last months' rent) will be required. Rent is often inclusive of utilities and landlords are required to supply heat and water. Sometimes it also includes internet and tv, other times you will have to add on expenses like electricity, telephone, internet, etc. Get a receipt of this deposit and any existing damage when signing your contract.

Note that to rent an apartment in New York City, most landlords require you to earn an annual salary of at least 40 to 45 times the monthly rent. If your salary is below that, or you are an international applicant, a guarantor may be required. 

Rental Contracts in New York

A rental contract is only valid in written form and should have two copies: one for the tenant, and one for the landlord. The contract should specify:

  • The date and means (cash, bank transfer) of paying the rent. For payments in cash always make sure to receive a signed receipt.
  • Whether the contract is open-ended or has an ending date.
  • Whether the tenant or the landlord deals with the utility payments. If the utilities are paid by the landlord, the contract should specify the monthly cost.
  • Whether a security deposit or a pre-payment is required and, if yes, the sum and means of payment.

Upon moving in, it is recommended to sign an inventory document listing the furniture, condition of the apartment and the technical condition of the electronic equipment, the readings of the meters for water, electricity, gas etc. This document should be prepared in two copies and signed by the tenant and the landlord.

Unless specified in the rental contract, a contract can be terminated with one month's notice. The landlord can terminate the contract only in a limited number of cases, most notably, if the tenant has damaged the rental property, or uses the property for purposes not specified in the contract.

Rental Rights and Obligations in NYC

Be aware of your rights and your obligations as a tenant and your landlord's rights and obligations.

  • New York City renters have the right to live in "safe, well maintained buildings that are free from pests, leaks and hazardous conditions."
  • City law states that heat must be provided from October 1 to May 31, with several stipulations: During the day, if it's consistently below 55 degrees, the inside temperature must be 68 degrees; at night, regardless of what the thermometer says outside, the inside temperature must be at least 62 degrees.
  • Landlords are required to tell you if an apartment has had bedbugs in the past year.
  • If the landlord wants you to sign a fixed-term lease, don't agree unless you are sure you want to stay for that length of time. If you leave before the end of a fixed-term lease, you may lose your deposit.
  • Your tenancy is not covered by the landlord and tenant legislation if you are renting a roomin your landlord's home, but it is covered if you are renting a self-contained apartment or flat.
  • Landlords must give at least 30 days' notice if they plan to raise your rent by more than five percent, or if they don't intend to offer a lease renewal; it's 60 days if you've been renting for 1-2 years, and 90 days if you've been renting for at least two years.
  • You have the right to form a tenants' association with other building residents. is a government site that offers a full guide to Tenant Rights.

Visit the Apartment

Before you sign a rental contract, it is recommended that you visit the apartment you are interested in. Call as soon as possible because good apartments go fast. If you reach an answering machine, leave a clear, concise message; say that you are calling about the apartment and how you found out about it.
Give your name and telephone number and ask the person to call you back at his/her earliest convenience to schedule an appointment.

In order to make a good impression when looking at apartments: Arrive on time, dress neatly and be on your best behaviour. If you are interested, let the person showing you the apartment know by asking relevant questions.

  • How long is the lease?
  • When is the move-in date and how long is the lease?
  • How much is the security deposit?
  • Are utilities included in the rent? If not, how much are they?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • What are the neighbours like? The community in the building?

As you are looking at the apartment, confirm that everything is in working order. Be prepared to offer your documents immediately. These usually include:

  • Photo ID: Driver's license or a passport
  • Letter of employment on company letterhead. Make sure it has your salary and start date. If you're going to college or grad school, get your letter of acceptance
  • Copies of recent pay stubs and bank statements; ideally the last three months. If you are self-employed, tax statements can be helpful.
  • Landlord reference letter (optional) 

Update 13/02/2020


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