If you are being moved to New York City from your home city by your company you will probably be put in touch with a relocation agent in New York City who will help you to find an apartment for your stay in the city. These relocation agents usually work in tandem with the HR department of your company. If your expat contract stipulates that your company will be paying your monthly rent in New York City then your company’s HR department will expect to be involved in every step of the process. If, however, you are just given an allowance and asked to find your own apartment you will have to perhaps work with a real estate agents to find your New York City rental apartment.
Real estate agents typically charge a one-time commission as a fee which varies from 0 to 15 percent of the annual rent charged by the landlord of the apartment. For any lease that is shorter than 6 months, the fee is equal to one month’s rent. However, there are various agencies that specialize in offering listings of ‘no fee’ rental apartments like Rent Direct (RDNY) http://www.rent-direct.com/) Rose NYC ( http://www.rosenyc.com/) and the erstwhile classifieds site (http://www.craigslist.org).
Before you can rent an apartment in New York City you have to make an application to the landlord. Your real estate agent will help you to create this application.
Application Documents to Rent a Dwelling in New York City
Before you enter into a lease with a landlord you have to supply certain documents which can help to convince the landlord that you are a worthy tenant. The documents typically required by most landlords in New York City include:
- A letter from your employer stating your position, your salary and length of employment (or start date if you have not yet started), and any information regarding bonus, guaranteed.
- Your last two pay slips
- Two personal reference letters
- Two business reference letters
- Verification of other assets such as real estate, securities, etc.
- Photo identification (a driver’s license, passport, visa)
- Preceding two years’ tax returns if applicable
- Last two months’ bank statements if applicable
You will also be expected to make a separate application if you want to house a pet in the rental.
The Rental Lease
After this application is approved by the landlord you will enter into a lease agreement with the landlord of the property. A lease agreement clearly defines the rental contract terms between the landlord and tenant. This lease agreement is a necessary document which is essential whether you are renting a house or an apartment. The lease helps you to understand your rights and obligations as a tenant though it is also a protective tool which safeguards your interests.
A typical lease agreement, or rental contract, in New York City will clearly spell out the terms between the tenant and the landlord as it will specify the length for which the rental contract is in effect, a sublet policy (whereby you can rent the apartment out to another renter if you are not using it for any reason) and a pet policy (many landlords in New York City do not like or allow pets, so it is essential that the lease outlines this policy). The lease also stipulates that the tenant is responsible for the payment of rent, what amount and how the amount paid as security deposit is invested and returned. Additionally, a rental lease also tends to mention how the premises may be used, a policy of alterations and improvements, payment of utilities, procedures for maintenance and other policies, obligations and regulations.
Each rental lease varies in the various terms and conditions that it defines but generally a rental lease agreement in New York City is signed for a year with the option to renew the lease for an additional two years. New York City landlords do not like to rent apartments to diplomats as diplomats in New York City, like diplomats elsewhere, enjoy diplomatic immunity and cannot really be evicted if they do not pay rent or violate the terms of the rental contract.
Most landlords will only accept checks issued by US banks at the time of signing the lease, so if you have not set up your bank account at the time of signing your lease you should have travelers check for amounts which can cover the security deposit and any other fees that are required to be paid. In most cases landlords demand a security deposit which is equal to one month’s rent and they also expect the first month’s pay in advance to be paid at the time of signing the lease. This security deposit plus interest accrued is refundable to you at the end of your lease. If you have been in the US for a while then the landlord may want to run a credit check on you and the fees, which range between $50-$100, for this procedure have to be borne by the tenant.
Many agencies offer relocation services and if you haven’t set up your bank account at the time of looking for your apartment, but have engaged the services of a relocation agency, you can wire the funds into the agency’s account from your overseas account. The agency will then present certified checks on your behalf to the landlord at the time of signing of your lease. You can also opt to pay the agency with an international credit card but this will typically attract additional charges. If you are working with an agent who charges fees you will be expected to pay these fees as well at this time.
Once the lease has been drafted, both the tenant and landlord are expected to sign it. Make sure that you get your own copy of the lease and keep it in a safe place as it is a document that protects your interests.
Real Estate Agencies that offer relocation services in New York City
- Sublet in the city: (http://www.subletinthecity.com/)
- Brown Harris Stevens: (http://www.brownharrisstevens.com/)
- Citi-Habitats ( http://www.citi-habitats.com/)
These above mentioned agencies all offer relocation services in New York City.
Requirements before you are accepted as a tenant
As general rule, landlords in New York City require that your guaranteed income should be at least 40 to 50 times the monthly rent amount. If your rent is fixed at $3000 a month, your landlord will expect you to have a guaranteed income of at least $120,000 per year. The landlord may be willing to accept bonus payouts in this amount if you can adequately display a history of bonus payments.
If your income levels do not meet with the landlord’s expectations you could perhaps ask someone to step in as a guarantor. Landlords in New York City prefer that this person who is to be your guarantor be located in the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) and also have an guaranteed income which is 80 to 100 times the asked for monthly rent. The guarantor is also expected to supply similar documents that display his/her financial viability like the tenant.
Most landlords in New York City have reservations about pets and if they do allow tenants to keep dogs, they require them to be below a certain weight and to belong to certain breeds. When you begin your search for an apartment you are expected to inform your real estate agent that you have a pet so the agent can then guide you only towards buildings which have rental apartments that allow pets. You have to make a separate application to have a pet in your apartment and this application fee is usually $100 for rental properties.
What your rent includes
A New York City apartment rental typically includes hot water and heat but not electricity. When you move into an apartment you have to find out which city agency supplies the building with utilities like electricity and then call the provider to set up your account. Most apartments in New York City are pre-wired for services like landline phones and cable TV and you just have to set up your account with the provider who supplies the building once you move in.
Currently, due to the challenging economic conditions, rentals in the New York City borough of Manhattan are being squeezed and it is possible to rent a one bedroom apartment in most of the fashionable parts of the city for around $2700. Two years ago similar one bedroom properties used to rent for more than $3500 before the global recession got underway.
The New York Ciry based brokerage firm, Citi-Habitats, uploads a rental market monitor every month on its website which provides a valuable insight to amounts being charged as rent city wide (http://www.citi-habitats.com/media/pdf/2009-7-mra.pdf). Similar estimates can also be found on the website of Streeteasy.com (http://www.streeteasy.com/nyc/rentals).