Renter’s Guide, Part 2: the Process

Part 2:   the Process

■       If I find a place I like through various listing sites (Craigslist, etc.) or friends, how do I make sure I get it?

Have your “rent pack” ready and checkbook with you at all times. Stay on top of your phone messages and your email. Once you schedule an appointment to see a place and decide you want it, the faster you can get your materials to the property manager, the better.

■       What’s in the rent pack?

–     Application (ask agent to email you in advance of seeing apt or fill out on the spot)
–   Pay stubs- a copy of three most recent pays stubs
–     Copy of photo id
–     Guarantor form (ask agent to email you in advance of seeing apt or fill out on the spot)
–     Check for application fee ( around $100)

Sometimes more is needed:

–     References- Name, address, phone number of last landlord
–     Letter of employment- states position, length of employment, annual income (signed by authorized person from your company)
–     Tax returns (federal), particularly if self employed
–     Bank statements- three most recent statements from your checking account, savings account or any financial institution

** Property managers will typically run a credit check.

■       Selection process: How fast is fast?

Depends on the other people looking. It is not unusual for someone to walk in and have their materials ready so they can take the place on the spot (barring all the usual financial and credit checks).

■       What kind of questions should I ask the person showing me the place?

–     Lease term (1 year, 2 year, month to month) and lease start date
–     What’s included in rent?
–     Building amenities, if any?
–     General year over year increase in rent (if any)
–     Process for adding roommate (if an issue)
–     History of last tenant, if possible
–     Any previous problems with pests? Bedbugs?
–     How to take care of maintenance issues
–     If there are cable/phone jacks for either DSL or cable internet (if needed)
–     Noise level
–     Access to subway
–     Grocery/laundry nearby?
–     Are pets allowed (if an issue)

Helpful things to have on hand:
–    Rent pack and checkbook
–     Measuring tape: if you want to measure for furniture, sometimes it’s hard to get back into the place before you move

■       I’m going to have a roommate(s), what do I do?

You should all sign a lease and have the appropriate materials ready—send all your potential roommates to the blog to help them prepare. “Legacy roommating” happens a lot in NYC. This means, for example, roomie 1 and roomie 2 rent an apartment and roomie 2 moves out at the end of the lease term. Roomie 1 (who does not want to move) takes over the full lease (becomes the tenant of record) and looks for a replacement roommate, roomie 3. Roomie 1 can still look for roomie 3 even if roomie 1 is the only person on the lease. The only thing is that the burden of paying the full lease falls on roomie 1 if roomie 3 does not sign a lease contract. This causes problems if roomie 3 decides not to pay rent.  Source:

Note: Sometimes roomie 2 moves out before the lease ends. This means roomie 3 subleases until roomie 2’s lease is over and then signs a new lease with roomie 1.

■       What should I watch out for?

Sometimes roomie 1 (or the tenant of record) pays the stated rent, the rent amount on the lease, but charges roomie 3 more than his/her share in rent in order to make a profit. This sometimes happens in rent stabilized places, too. This is not allowed so watch out for it.


About Tina Shah

Hi! I’m in my 30’s learning how to breathe properly. Read Tina's Story in the menu bar to learn more.
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